Arsenal stars look to fire England back to the top

After
yet another fantastic guest
post
,
this time all the way from June Pan in the States, I’m back with a brand new
Gunners Fair. The UEFA Women’s European
Championships

kicked off last night (Sweden 1-1 Denmark and Italy 0-0 Finland) but Hope
Powell’s Lionesses don’t start their campaign until July 12 versus Spain.

Despite the 4-1 loss to hosts Sweden in
the second friendly (their heaviest defeat in four years), England are still
ranked fourth in Europe, seventh in the world and have an experienced core
(many of whom played in the 6-2 2009 final loss to a rampant Germany) that
blends well with the young talent.

Previous to the defeat last week, the
side had gone unbeaten in 11 games and it would be foolish to dismiss their
chances at qualifying for the knock-out stages. They were runners-up in 2009
and with a better and stronger squad now, they are one of the top contenders to
win the final on July 28.

However a tough group awaits with Spain,
France and Russia and though Powell is quietly confident in her team’s chances
and preparation, she also cautions against complacence or thinking too far
ahead.

“What we do have
is a lot of experience and not only at the senior level. A lot of the players
who have come through our youth course have experienced European and world
championships … The best preparation is simply to go out and try and win every
game.”

Many things are in play at a tournament
like this and the best we can expect is for the team to go out and take one
game at a time. The Sweden loss showed that even the best can have off days,
and everyone will be hoping that the squad take it in their stride and learn
from the mistakes. This positive but realistic attitude is something Rachel
Yankey echoes
in her Euro 2013 diary for Arsenal.com.

“We started quite slowly and
then got back into the game and Ellen scored a good goal. But we made some
silly mistakes that cost us and we need to make sure we’ve improved when we
kick off our campaign against Spain next Friday.

“Maybe the Sweden result can be a
positive because we’ll have to learn lessons and show character quickly. We
have to go into the next game positively and make sure we kick off with a win.”

As I wrote about in a previous Gunners
Fair, Arsenal Ladies feature prominently in this English squad with Steph
Houghton, Rachel Yankey, Ellen White, Alex Scott and Jordan Nobbs, so we have
an additional reason to be proud of the girls and support them and the rest of
the Lionesses in Sweden. Thanks to the increased focus on the women’s game and
the FA’s five-year
plan
, we are lucky enough to have
comprehensive coverage of the entire tournament. Tune into BBC
Three
for 16 live games, extensive
highlights and an exclusive pre-game broadcast which will led by Match of the Day’s Jacqui Oatley, Tina
Daheley and BBC Breakfast’s Sally
Nugent in a new-look all-female team. Official kick-off for all the games is at
7.30pm UK time and there will also be online live action on BBC Sport, some on
BBC Two and BBC Two HD as well as full radio broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live or 5
live Sports Extra.

Before I sign off for this week, here’s
a little bit of light-hearted fun from the England camp. Arsenal defender Alex
Scott and Everton forward Toni Duggan answer
questions from fans about their international team-mates.

See you next week where I come hopefully
bring you good news and results from the girls. Please tune in to BBC and show
your support, the Gunners Town team would like to wish them all the best in
bringing back that trophy for the first time in the history of English women’s
football.

Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.

Anushree
Nande


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