Wasteful Arsenal suffered a blow in the Women’s Super League title race as they were held to a draw at West Ham.
They also found West Ham keeper Mackenzie Arnold in fine form – the Australian making several good saves.
The draw leaves Arsenal five points behind WSL leaders Chelsea.
Arsenal have dropped points in consecutive league games, after being held at home by Chelsea following a last-minute equalizer from Sam Kerr.
Jonas Eidevall’s side have a game in hand but are clearly missing star forwards Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema who are both out for the season with anterior cruciate ligament injuries in their knee.
West Ham meanwhile remain seventh, having drawn for the first time in 18 WSL appearances.
Frustration for failed gunners
In what promises to be a fascinating WSL title race, this Sunday couldn’t have gone better for Emma Hayes’ Chelsea.
After seeing Manchester United drop points at home to Everton, they won at Tottenham before watching Arsenal huff and puff but fail to bring down West Ham.
It was the first time Arsenal had failed to score in a WSL game since a goalless draw with Hayes’ Blues in February last year, in a title chase where they were eventually edged out the last day.
Arsenal grabbed headlines with their astonishing attempts to sign Russo for a club-record £500,000 on transfer deadline day.
Their reasons for doing so became more apparent as this game wore on, with Caitlin Foord summing up their struggles by misjudging a chip when clean late, sending him high into the stands.
It’s too early to make such projections this season, but in a league as competitive as the WSL, losing two points here could cost Eidevall’s side dearly in the long run.
Smart Hammers defend for the draw
Previous games between these teams can only be described as one-sided – West Ham had lost all eight of their WSL meetings with Arsenal, while the Gunners had won all three top-flight away games against the Hammers, scoring 15 goals in the process.
With Eidevall’s charges having won their last eight away matches in the WSL, more punishments have appeared on the cards – but West Ham are much more resolute these days, and manager Paul Konchesky has put his tactic on on point.
West Ham took on Arsenal early on, looking to press high whenever they could and refusing to invite too much pressure.
This led to a major penalty shout in the 33rd minute when captain Dagny Brynjarsdottir fell in the box but was ruled out by referee Richie Watkins.
In the second half they began to sit deeper, as Arsenal grew tired and more frustrated at not being able to break through their opponents.
When the home defense was breached, the visitors found Player of the Match Arnold in superb form.
She rushed to close Frida Maanum early and did well to deny the Norwegian again on the half hour mark with a smart save near the post.
Arnold made more good saves after the break, denying Stina Blackstenius with his leg in the 66th minute before smothering the Swedish striker’s feet shortly after and then making a fine scrambling save to prevent the effort by Rafaelle Souza from a corner.