Arsenal Ladies are yet to kick-off their domestic league season, but the first taste of professional football after the preparation of pre-season didn’t go exactly according to plan for Shelley Kerr’s side.
Arsenal lost 1-0 away to Birmingham City Ladies in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Before the match, the boss went on record saying that she expected a competitive match and that her girls were ready for the game, but also talked about the hindrances of losing players to their national teams.
“Since the first week of January we’ve had a series of intense training sessions and friendly games and the girls are ready for the game. The players are playing fantastic quality teams with their respective national teams but then when you lose players for so many days this can hinder preparation, but we look at it as a positive as they are playing against better players in a really competitive environment.”
The Gunners have known since November that the only way they can qualify for the Champions League next season is by winning it. Then there is also the question of new faces, and the side being almost completely revamped. (Only four players still remain from the team that started the 2nd leg vs Glasgow in their Round of 16 fixture – Alex Scott, Emma Bryne, Emma Mitchell and Rachel Yankey.) Such settling in takes time, however good the pre-season has been and a few glitches were to be expected, but it is disappointing that Arsenal couldn’t take their chances in a game they started brightly. (Speaking of a new-look Arsenal Ladies side this season, here is a very interesting behind-the-scenes video from Arsenal.com archives for those of you interested in getting to know our new players, as well as know more about the old-timers.)
After having got the better of the Blues four times last season, Kerr’s side were confident but not complacent. New signings Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga impressed on their debuts, while England captain Casey Stoney made her first start since the return to the club. But in the end, it was Birmingham City player, Remi Allen’s first half goal that made the difference. It wasn’t the worst of performances from the Gunners, but they did lack a cutting edge up front that meant they couldn’t take advantage of the chances they created.
It leaves the Ladies with everything to do when the sides meet in the 2nd leg on Sunday at the Hive. That game is also providing schools/clubs the chance to win an Arsenal Ladies player visit. The offer is limited to institutions within 100 miles of Boreham Wood FC, the Gunners’ home ground, and all they have to do is try to get as many people to the Sunday game. Normal ticket prices are £5 for Adults and £2.50 for concessions. There is also the special family rate of £10 for two adults and two children under 16. The game kicks off at 2pm on March 30, 2014 and all other relevant details can be found here.
Our Continental Cup group game versus London Bees on May 4, 2014 at Boreham Wood FC has been changed to an earlier 12pm kick-off. Another game and opponent has been confirmed as Arsenal have been drawn to play at home to Gillingham in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The match will be played at Meadow Park on April 13, 2014 at 2pm. More information can be found on the ticketing section of the Arsenal.com website. For those of you still interested in the season ticket applications, please go through the details here.
There is one piece of bad news in the injury department as midfielder Jordan Nobbs suffered a back injury while on England duty and will miss the start of the season. This is a blow to Kerr and her side as the youngster slowly became one of the key players last season, and the Gunners Town team would like to wish Jordan a very speedy recovery that sees her back on the field sooner than later.
However, there is a piece of good news for the FA Women’s Super League in general as the next step in BBC’s continuing support to women’s sport is announced. Radio 5 live sports extra is now the home of live women’s football in 2014 as per a new, exclusive deal agreed by the FA and BBC. The first edition of the show will take place on April 16 as Arsenal host Notts County at the Meadow Lane Stadium in the opening game of the WSL season. Radio 5 live sports extra will build up and provide live commentary (which will include current WSL players for a more enhanced and interactive experience) for at least 16 games during the season, with some more coverage on Radio 5 Live. Representatives from both sides in this partnership are very pleased and excited about this new development,
“I’m delighted that 5 live sports extra is able to bring even more coverage of women’s football to the BBC through this new partnership. The 2014 FA Women’s Super League season is set to be the best yet and strengthens the impressive lineup of live sport we already have on sports extra.” (Jonathan Wall, BBC Radio 5 Live controller)
“We are delighted with our partnership with the BBC to showcase top level women’s football across all their platforms. Our fans, along with newcomers to the game, will enjoy unprecedented levels of women’s football coverage in what is a very exciting year ahead. We’ve set out a plan with our partners to develop high quality semi-professional women’s football in England and the partnership with the BBC is instrumental in helping us deliver on our ambition.” (Kelly Simmons, Director of the National Game and Women’s Football at the FA)
That’s all for now. Stay safe and sane, Gooners! (Easier said than done, I know.)
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.