Things are pretty quiet on the Arsenal Ladies front post the Continental Cup win, but let’s not forget the thrashing they presented the Kairat Ladies with, in the Champions League.
Just five days after winning the Continental Cup for the third time in a row, Arsenal scored seven past WFC SSHVSM Kairat in the first leg in Kazakhstan – a brace from Kim Little and a goal apiece from Danielle Carter, Jordan Nobbs, Katie Chapman, Rachel Yankey and substitute Freda Ayisi. The second leg will be played at Boreham Wood in the afternoon today (2pm kick-off) but the Gunners have all but ensured their safe passage through to the round of 16.
As you will recall, this competition has gained even more importance since Arsenal finished third in the recently concluded Women’s Super League. They now have to win this edition of the Champions League if they want to feature in it come next season. Kairat may not be the toughest of opponents but Shelley Kerr’s side made their intentions very clear. The team still has only one domestic loss this entire season and despite surrendering their WSL title to Matt Beard’s Liverpool, look like they mean business with the Continental Cup adding to May’s FA Cup win and now a confident, flying start to their Champions League campaign.
Shelley Kerr, in her interview post the 2-0 defeat of Lincoln Ladies, stressed the importance of patience and not losing faith post a difficult few weeks – a string of draws had all but put the title out of their reach, and a docking of points for fielding an unregistered player only made it worse before the team had to settle for third place despite a win against Birmingham City Ladies on the final day of the WSL.
“… it was really tough for us as a Club to try and move forward. In football that’s the most important thing, you have to move forward and the way I see it is that we would have had a Champions League spot if we hadn’t received the points deduction and we’ve won two out of three domestic trophies. For anybody who is doubting the talents we’ve got at this Club or how good we are as a team I think the facts are there for everyone to see.”
The Cup win over the Lincoln Ladies was also satisfying for one more reason. This was the first time all season that the Arsenal Ladies had managed to register a win against them following 3 draws against them so far this season. The resolute Lincoln Ladies defence held up until the late Arsenal breakthrough to clinch the trophy.
“… that’s a credit to Lincoln because they are so well organised defensively. But we stayed patient and when you have to defend for long periods it’s really difficult to do and I felt maybe Lincoln tired a bit because you have to concentrate so hard it drains you sometimes. We had that class and we eventually got the goals.”
Arsenal Ladies are now in the middle of a long unbeaten run (since the opening day defeat to Liverpool Ladies) and hopefully they can keep it up in their pursuit to bring the Champions League home again.
In other news, the Ladies captain Steph Houghton is up for WSL goal of the season, so please make sure you get right behind her and send in your vote here. You can also see a video of her beautiful curled 89th minute equaliser for Arsenal against the Lincoln Ladies which ensured a crucial WSL point for the Gunners.
That’s all from my end, here’s a gallery of photos from that Continental Cup win in case any of you missed out on seeing them last week. Here’s to getting back to Arsenal ways after that international break!
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.