Beard: The FA Cup, Arsenal and Alisha Lehmann

Matt Beard West Ham United

Matt Beard knows West Ham United face a tough challenge in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday but believes his side have the quality to progress in the competition. 

The Hammers welcome reigning Barclays FA Women’s Super League champions Arsenal to Rush Green on Sunday in the FA Cup, having reached the Final of the competition at Wembley Stadium last campaign. 

Head coach Beard acknowledges that his team could not have asked for a tougher first test in the tournament, but feels Sunday’s match is the perfect opportunity to make a statement of intent.

“We’re really excited,” Beard told “We’ve got the toughest draw we could have asked for, but we have the home advantage. We’ve been doing okay over the course of the season and hopefully we can use Sunday as a catalyst to really kick on. 

“We believe we can win this game. We’ll give it our best. We had a fantastic run in the Cup last year. This competition, because we were safe by Christmas last season, became our main focus and we achieved what people would have thought was unachievable. We want to do well in this competition again, but we have a real challenge ahead of us.”

We believe we can win this game. We want to do well in the FA Cup, but we have a real challenge ahead of us

Matt Beard

Sunday’s opponents Arsenal head into this weekend’s game off the back of a defeat at the hands of Chelsea, and Beard believes his team have the ability to unsettle the Gunners. 

He continued: “Arsenal got beat last week 4-1 so we’re expecting a reaction from them this weekend. We know that we’ve built a team here that can compete with anyone in this division. 

“From our perspective, we can draw on the positives of the way we played against them in the second half on the first day of the season, the way we unsettled them and didn’t let them get into a rhythm, and that’s something we need to do from the start this weekend. 

“Arsenal are competing in every competition; the league, the Continental Cup and the semi-final of that next Wednesday. They’ve got the Champions League after that. They’ve got a lot of games coming their way so it’s a good opportunity for us to get one over them.”

Arsenal women

West Ham will be without Adriana Leon and Cho So-hyun this weekend, with the duo away on Olympic Qualification duty with Canada and South Korea, respectively. 

Beard also confirmed that the Irons are missing striker Martha Thomas and defender Laura Vetterlein.

“Dri and Cho are with their national teams, preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, and unfortunately Martha and Laura will both be missing,” he continued.

"Martha will be out for at least a month due to an injury in training, and this game probably just comes a week too soon for Laura. That makes the task a little bit more difficult, but we played well in the second half against Brighton and we need to take the positivity from that, the way we finished that game, into this Sunday.”


With Thomas unavailable, Beard could turn to Alisha Lehmann to lead the line on Sunday. 

The Swiss international, who is comfortable playing across the front three, scored twice from a central position against Brighton, and her pace and directness means the 21-year-old is an option for Beard as the main striker.

“It’s a potential one,” the head coach confirmed. “We’ve had Alisha on the left in some games because we like her coming off the line and coming in. If she gets faced up, then she can drive at the centre-backs. 

“With the injuries we’ve got at the moment then it’s something we will look at leading up to the game. She was excellent down the middle last week because she’s so direct. Leanne Kiernan, as well is so quick and direct, so perhaps our new system will give us space to work with.”

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