West Ham vs Man United: 3 main takeaways as Irons nick draw

Mary Earps of Manchester United makes a save during the Barclays Women's Super League match vs West Ham United
Mary Earps of Manchester United makes a save during the Barclays Women's Super League match vs West Ham United (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

West Ham fought back valiantly to earn a point against Manchester United in their latest Women’s Super League clash, but what were the main takeaways? 

Rehanne Skinner had belief in her pre-match press conference, after the last home game at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, which was when they defeated Arsenal in a 1-0 victory. 

Manchester United came into the game with form not nearly as consistent as it were last season. With three losses in 2024 and 10 points adrift before kick-off, they ideally needed all three points to keep pace with the top three. However, a late Viviane Asseyi late equaliser stopped the Reds in their tracks.  

Manchester United will struggle to keep pace 

The Red Devils started the game off with a superb press, suffocating the West Ham defenders, who were adamant to keep playing out from the back. It inevitably led to the first goal, in which captain Katie Zelem pounced on a mistake allowing Rachel Williams to smash it into the back of the net.  

At that moment in time, it looked to be a gloomy Saturday for the West Ham fans, but their team stepped up to battle while their opponents fell to their sword. United couldn’t match the energy they had in the first 20 minutes, and allowed the Hammers to grow into the game. If the home side could execute few more passes in the final third, the three points could have been there to take. 

The away side had numerous opportunities to double their advantage, but none to celebrate. They took their foot off the gas, especially in the second half. These are the teams that Man United can’t afford to drop points against if they want to finish in the top three. But with a nine-point gap, that dream is fading away.  

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Marc Skinner was ‘disappointed’ and felt like they had ‘dropped two points’ with their result.

“We should have won the game. We’ve had enough chances to win the game — enough clearcut chances, not even half-chances. We’ll be disappointed to have dropped two points. We should win the game.”

Work required on playing out from the back for the Hammers 

In the opening five minutes, West Ham played the ball out from MacKenzie Arnold a few times and the press from United frontline were chasing the defenders from the first minute. The groans and murmurs already begun and inevitably, the Red Devils pounced on a mistake, with Williams finishing it off. 

There was a sense of nerves whenever the ball was played from Arnold, and her confidence with the ball was decreasing. Whether it’s just communication from the backline, or more time under pressure on the ball, Arnold does need work on her distribution. The defence did do their bit, in crucial interceptions and blocks to keep them in the game, but when passing out from the back, the pressure was evident. 

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Conversely, Arnold made two brilliant saves in the first half. Williams met a brilliant cross with a bullet header, but the keeper responded with an acrobatic save. There’s no doubt about her ability when shot-stopping. 

West Ham need to make their home an advantage  

It’s a match for West Ham had to grow into but United will want to forget. Rehanne Skinner’s side did respond well in the second half, with Asseyi being one of the bright sparks in the performance, as she continuously provided an outlet on the flanks. Her tricks and deft touches made her a challenge to deal with, particularly in those last few minutes. But Maya Le Tissier and Hannah Blundell took that challenge on and almost succeeded until the 84th minute.  

After the point gained, Rehanne Skinner said that they didn’t let the opening moments faze them and the team needed that ‘belief and confidence from the first whistle’.

“We tweaked a few things in terms of our outer possession at half-time and I thought they executed it really, really well. I’m so proud of the response of the players, as we didn’t let it faze us and got back into the game.”

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West Ham have tough fixtures to close the season as they host Chelsea and a rejuvenated Leicester, but they’ve proved they can compete with the best sides.  

‘Anyone can beat anyone’ were the words of the Hammers coach, and that’s the mentality they need to take into every game to make sure they stay in the WSL. 

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