Much like their male counterparts, West Ham United Women are currently in the midst of a wonderful vein of form, one that has seen them embark on a fantastic four-game winning run in all competitions under Matt Beard.
But what has the hot streak meant statistically for the Women’s Super League 1 side? Today, we’re going to find out with a statistics-driven tactical analysis on the four-game winning run of the team that turned professional for the first time in their history in the summer.
As aforementioned, this run of form has seen the Hammers pick up four wins in all competitions and if you expand the run back a further three matches, it becomes five victories in the space of seven games.
The four-match hot streak began back in late November following a three-goal away defeat to Birmingham City, with a crucial 2-0 victory over Bristol City at the Rush Green Stadium.
Seven days later, and in the club’s first December fixture, a one-goal triumph was scored on a tricky away trip to face Brighton & Hove Albion. This set Beard’s team up nicely for what has undoubtedly been the most eye-catching win of the four, an outstanding 0-5 thrashing of Yeovil Town at the Avenue Stadium.
Even with a weakened team against WSL 2 outfit Charlton Athletic in the final Continental Tyres Cup group game last night, the East Londoners were still able to come out on top on the road. They secured a 0-2 victory to keep the run going and taste sweet success in the final match of what has been a momentous year, which has included such achievements as lifting two cups, turning pro and joining the WSL.
This four-game 100 per cent run, and more specifically, the three WSL matches in it have allowed the side skippered by ex-Chelsea and Arsenal star Gilly Flaherty to pick up nine points out of nine.
The first three points were sealed at home to City before the back-to-back away wins at Brighton and Yeovil brought with them the next six. These points have propelled West Ham up the WSL table and could go along way to securing their safety in a maiden campaign at the highest level of women’s football in England. However, we’ll touch more on the table position a little later in this analysis.
Ten goals scored
One of the most impressive parts of this hot streak has been the sheer volume of goals scored by Beard’s girls, ten in just four matches at an average of over two per match.
The highest scorer in this run has been summer signing and Danish international Alisha Lehmann, who has found the back of the net four times, once in the only home game of this run, twice at Yeovil and once in last night’s cup triumph.
Close behind her, with two apiece are fellow summer arrivals Scottish International striker Jane Ross and Germany midfielder Julia Simic, Ross having troubled the scorers in the opening two games and Simic clinching a brace in the drubbing in the West Country.
Meanwhile, Rosie Kmita, one of only two players kept on as the team turned professional at the end of last season, and American attacking midfielder Brianna Visalli have each added to the run. Scoring has hardly been a problem for the Irons this season with 16 notched in the league, the fourth most, whilst defending has been the issue, which makes our next stat all the more head-turning.
Zero goals conceded
Incredibly, despite conceding 19 in the first half of the WSL campaign and a further four more in the League Cup, West Ham have managed to avoid conceding at all over the four matches, with zero goals conceded.
This is testament to the work of skipper Flaherty at centre-back and her former Blues teammate Claire Rafferty at left-back marshalling the defence. The Hammers backline has come a long way since letting seven in at Manchester City in October and this run is real evidence of that.
A cup quarter-final reached
Along with the excellent figures totted up by Beard’s team over the four games, they have also created a milestone in this run, by reaching the knockout stages and quarter-finals of the Women’s League Cup or Continental Tyres Cup in their first-ever taste of the competition.
Qualification was sealed by the Charlton victory, the opponent they defeated in the goodmove.com Women’s Cup final last season, the other being Luton Town in the WPL Plate final. This came after two previous wins over Millwall and Lewes in the group stage of the tournament, losing their only other game away at reigning champions and five-time winners the Gunners. The last-eight ties will be contested in the new year.
League position: sixth
And finally, after analysing where this leaves the Hammers in terms of the cup competition, we are going to take an in-depth look at where the winning run leaves them in the WSL 1 table at the end of 2018.
Heading into the new year, they sit in sixth position, a far cry from where they would have imagined themselves at the start of a daunting first professional campaign, in which they very much entered the WSL for the first time as major underdogs.
Remarkably, the team have picked up 16 points from a possible 33 thus far and find themselves two points clear of Bristol City, a place below and two points behind Reading a place above. They are six points clear of the powerhouses Liverpool down in 10th and just six points away from Birmingham in the first position of the top four. But more importantly, they are a full 13 points clear of bottom-place Yeovil in a term where survival will mean everything for West Ham.
As they enjoy a break from action over the festive period, the focus for Beard and his staff and his players will very much be on keeping this four-game winning run going in 2019. However, it won’t be easy with Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all waiting in three league clashes in the month of January.
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