Women’s Super League mid-season review: No 10, West Ham
It’s been a turbulent first few months of the season for West Ham.
Having comfortably finished well clear of danger at the end of the shortened 2019-20 Women’s Super League campaign, manager Matt Beard would have been looking optimistically towards a top half finish for his side this season.
But just one point from their first five WSL games rang alarm bells for all those at the club, most notably when they were embarrassed 9-1 at home to Arsenal in September.
The 42-year-old departed after nearly two and a half years with the team, with no permanent replacement on the horizon.
A 3-2 defeat to champions Chelsea followed Beard’s exit, but they ended the year on a high with a 4-0 victory over fellow strugglers Bristol City.
Safe to say it is not how those in charge at the club would have foreseen the last few months panning out, but they have ended the year with victory and appointed a new manager in the shape of Olli Harder.
Could he be the change they need to ensure they stay out of trouble and potentially even kick on up the table? We’ll have to wait and see.
Here is a more in-depth look at their season so far and where the rest of their campaign could be won and lost in 2021.
League position (last season at Christmas in brackets): 10th - 7 points (8th - 10 points)
WSL record so far this season: P: 9, W: 2, D: 1, L: 6
Season highlights: 4-0 v Bristol City
It could be argued that the biggest moment of West Ham’s season so far was their 2-1 victory away at Birmingham City back in November.
But that victory was followed up by back-to-back WSL defeats against Brighton and Chelsea, so it cannot be looked upon as a turning point in their campaign.
Instead, the Irons need to look at their emphatic 4-0 win over Bristol City in their final match before the Christmas break as a result which could be the catalyst for change.
Emilv van Egmond, Rachel Daly and Martha Thomas all got on the scoresheet as they proved they were a cut above the winless Robins.
Could that impressive display spark a changed side come January?
Key player: Emily van Egmond
This was a toss up between Emily van Egmond and Rachel Daly, but in the end the Australian just stole it.
After finding the back of the net in their defeat to Manchester United, her winner against Birmingham City gave the Hammers their first league victory of the season following a treacherous start.
She then scored again in their dominant win over Bristol City in December and has led the line incredibly well for West Ham in key moments of their season so far.
Biggest test to come?
With trips to both Manchester City and Arsenal in January, you would be surprised if the Hammers pick up too many more points before they host Bristol City on February 7.
And it is that fixture at the Chigwell Construction Stadium which could make or break the club’s season.
If City win that match then they will be given a renewed sense of confidence that they can finish above West Ham.
But a victory for the London side would more or less put to bed any talk of relegation as they look to secure a fourth successive campaign in the top flight.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox