It has now been close to two months since West Ham United women’s team started life as professionals in the newly restructured FA Women’s Super League, but how have they fared so far?
Today, we are going to answer that question by analysing the statistics of Matt Beard’s team in the highest tier of English football for the first-ever time, thus far. We will do this by statistically looking back at their opening seven matches in the division, their record, their FAWSL top scorer and star player, as well as looking ahead to their upcoming fixtures, join us.
As aforementioned, the side that became professional for the first time in their history in the summer having been accepted into the FAWSL in May by the induction of more teams into the top two leagues of English women’s football, have taken to the field seven times so far in the FAWSL.
It all started in the middle of September after the fixtures draw saw them sit out the opening matchday in the first week of the month, having won two and lost one Continental Tyres Cup group matches in August.
Their first-ever taste of FAWSL football came in the form a Wednesday-night home clash with Reading Women at Rush Green Stadium, the site of their home matches and both West Ham men’s and women’s first-team training.
That night ended, despite home dominance, in a competitive goalless draw, but the unbeaten run would be ended just days later for the Hammers, with a thrilling 4-3 defeat at Arsenal Women, their second loss to the club of the campaign, in all competitions.
Beard’s girls made it a complete mixed bag of results by defeating Yeovil Town one home soil at the end of the month, courtesy of a late Rosie Kmita winner, but that triggered a run of two defeats to mark the move into October.
However, these back-to-back losses were to two of the best teams in the league in the form of Manchester City and Liverpool away and at home, 7-1 and 0-1, the first of which was the first of the team’s games to be broadcast live in the United Kingdom, ever.
Since the Reds loss on October 21, the Irons have won one, an eye-catching defeat of Everton away from home and lost one, Sunday’s 0-2 loss to Chelsea at Rush Green, leading them up until now.
Next, with the help of our good friends over at wyscout.com, whom the below graphic has been acquired from, we are going to analyse the women’s overall record in the FAWSL in 18/19.
As you can see, they’re sitting eighth in the league table, something we will look at in greater detail a little later on, with two victories to their name, one at home and one away, over Yeovil and the Toffees respectively.
The East Londoners have been involved in just the single draw so far, on the opening day against Reading and of course, the four defeats, a number that many would have expected to be a lot higher by now.
One stat that Beard won’t be pleased to see is the fact that his side have conceded double the amount they’ve scored with 16 goals against and eight goals for.
A lot of this comes down to conceding an embarrassing seven times away to the Citizens, without that game, they would have conceded just one more than they’ve scored from the seven outings.
As it stands, their goal difference is -8 and they will want to see that improve as the season goes along, especially sitting at the wrong end of the table, where it could go down to the wire when deciding the matter of whether relegation to the FAWSL Championship or another year in FAWSL will be secured.
That brings us perfectly onto the league table stage of this statistics-driven tactical analysis, where we analyse the Irons’ position amongst the 11 teams that make up the women’s top-flight.
As you can see from the league table graphic, taken from the official FAWSL website and as we’ve already touched on, for their first season at this level, West Ham are sitting handsomely in eighth-place.
With a game in hand on some of the teams above them and a game more than some of the teams below them, the Hammers have seven points and are just a point off Bristol City Women above, comfortably clear of the relegation zone and a mere five points away from the top four.
West Ham’s WSL top scorer and arguably their standout player so far has been one of 16 new signings in the summer as the club upgraded their squad to match professional standards, Kate Longhurst.
The right-back and childhood Hammer was signed from the red half of Merseyside during the transfer window and has netted two, a quarter of all her team’s goals. They both came in the same match, the thrilling loss away at the Gunners.
One would feel that she could have had more too with her nine shots, four or 44% of which have been on target, excellent for a defender. As the above BBC Sport graphic tells us, the East London native has averaged a goal every 286 minutes in the 572 FAWSL minutes she’s played.
After a very tricky run of fixtures, Beard’s women now have the chance to improve on their start to life in the FAWSL over the next four matches, before they return to Continental Cup action in mid-December.
They face just one team from the current top six, Birmingham City away from home in their next match later this month, before hosting close table rivals Bristol City, and travelling to two outfits below them, Brighton & Hove Albion Women and Yeovil.
In conclusion, our statistical tactical analysis today has found that West Ham Women have started their existence in the FAWSL wonderfully to hold their own and marginally lose one more game than they’ve drawn or won so far, keeping their nose above danger comfortably in eighth as winter rolls in.
Given the fact that they finished mid-table in a league several levels below this one last season, albeit with a completely different team, and have had to make the giant leap up, manager Beard, captain Gilly Flaherty and everyone associated with the team will be delighted. Survival has to be the target for the Hammers and on the basis of what they’ve shown so far, that’s a realistic target and one they should achieve, if they can continue this more than respectable form.