Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL Preview Tactical Analysis

This match analysis was first featured on our dedicated analysis site, totalfootballanalysis.com.

Taking centre stage in the FAWSL this Monday are Liverpool Women and West Ham Women. Sitting seventh and eighth respectively, this game could see one of the two sides make a good push into the final stretch of the season.

Despite being eighth, Liverpool will be heading into this one slightly more confidently. Coming up against league leaders Manchester City Women and Arsenal Women, West Ham were defeated in both matches. On the other hand, Liverpool dispatched Yeovil Town Women last time out.

As their league positions suggest, neither side has been prolific this season. However, with 19 goals compared to Liverpool’s ten, West Ham may fancy themselves to come out with something on Monday. In this tactical preview, I’ll outline how they may set up to create goalscoring chances on Monday.

West Ham’s press

Although they came up against the favourites to lift the FAWSL title, especially against Arsenal, West Ham were in the game. A big reason for this was their effort off the ball. Rather than conceding territory to Arsenal, they decided to press high early on.

This knocked Arsenal off their stride and allowed West Ham to get a foothold in the game. Here’s an example of how they can do that away at Liverpool.

FAWSL 2018/19: West Ham vs Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Arsenal go short from the goal kick, which West Ham expected. Therefore their left winger and left back both compress the area for Williamson to play up the pitch. She switches the ball.
FAWSL 2018/19: West Ham vs Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
West Ham have split well and commit similar pressing numbers to the opposite half of the pitch. Arsenal try to play forward but the sheer volume of bodies stops that.

Doing this early can help set the tone of the game. Rather than being passive, taking this approach may lead to Liverpool errors that they can feed off. Seeing as they took this approach vs Arsenal and Manchester City, I don’t see why they wouldn’t against a more equal opposition, especially as it lead to goalscoring chances like this:

However, it’s also important to note that they won’t be able to do this for the entire game. Therefore, it’ll be interesting to see whether West Ham take this approach periodically or go all out and then sit back once tired.

How West Ham can attack Liverpool

As well as forcing opposition errors, in possession West Ham are most dangerous when direct. This applies with the ball on the floor or in the air, as seen against Arsenal when their direct approach took their opponents off guard.

With the pace of Alisha Lehmann and the know-how of top scorer Jane Ross, they can do damage. Against Brighton, Liverpool struggled to deal with direct attacks as seen below. In this light, should West Ham opt to go straight at Liverpool, they may have some good fortune. Here’s an example of how.

Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here we see Brighton’s left-back Gibbons in acres of space to roam forward. She doesn’t hesitate to do so.
FAWSL 2018/19: Liverpool Women vs Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
However, rather than engaging her, the Liverpool defence are static. This puts Gibbons in control of the situation and she is able to cut inside without a problem.
FAWSL 2018/19: Liverpool Women vs Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Liverpool are now scrambling to get to Gibbons inside the box. She manages to get a shot off but it flashes wide.

Here’s how West Ham can take advantage of that.

FAWSL 2018/19: West Ham vs Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, the ball has come straight from a West Ham goal kick. Arsenal fail to deal with it and the ball runs through the Arnth-McCabe channel.
FAWSL 2018/19: West Ham vs Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
Too pacy for Arsenal, Lehman is able to ghost to the byline. The Arsenal defence is now desperately out of shape. Jane Ross sees this and peels away from the traffic.
FAWSL 2018/19: West Ham vs Arsenal Tactical Analysis Statistics
With the Arsenal defence preoccupied, Ross finds a great space to receive the ball and score.

As we can see Jane Ross is a veteran striker in the way she uses space. With three goals in her last two FAWSL games, this form could follow on to this match. Paired with the pace of West Ham’s wingers, it could be very dangerous on Monday.

Liverpool’s attack

Despite all this, Liverpool are just three points behind West Ham. Being at home, they’ll also believe they have what it takes to win this game. Like West Ham’s, their top scorer Courtney Sweetman-Kirk is on six league goals this season. With two goals in her last game, she’d also be coming into this game with confidence.

However, unlike West Ham, Liverpool seem as if they can be more fluid in attack. Although they have just 10 goals, they have shown creativity to try and open defences. A big way they do this is with forward movements off the ball.

Rather than a static attack, a dynamic one gives the defence more to focus on. Here’s how that worked out for them in the last round of fixtures.

FAWSL 2018/19: Liverpool Women vs Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Yeovil have dropped into a low block. However, Liverpool are able to find a way through it. Movement off the ball to the right of the image gives Murray an option on the ball.
FAWSL 2018/19: Liverpool Women vs Liverpool Women West Ham Women FAWSL 2018/19 Tactical Analysis Statistics
Murray picks the pass out well and now Liverpool are in behind. This move results in a penalty which Liverpool score to go ahead.

Seeing as West Ham sometimes opt to sit back during games, this could be a way Liverpool try to break them down.

However, almost more importantly, in Sweetman-Kirk they have a natural goalscorer. When the ball falls in the box, she seems to have a sense for where it will fall and how to finish it. This instinct is something that will help Liverpool greatly over the course of the season as it already has done.

Summary

Overall, it looks like we have a tight game on our hands. Neither team is in the greatest of form but have patterns of play that could set them apart during the match. Not only this but both sides have valuable strikers to make a difference in an instance. It’ll be interesting to see which one gets the upper hand.


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