We need to be more clinical and more creative in the final third without a shadow of a doubt. I sometimes think that we play too much football in the wrong areas. That includes our own defensive third and the attacking third and it’s decision making. We’re disappointed, I’m disappointed today because we’re dominating games in terms of possession but you need to make it count because there’s no margin for error and this club has built the foundations of success. It’s not about winning things but it is about creating a positive environment and trying to make sure you’re dominating games, but get something out of them. There’s no point in dominating games if you don’t get something out of it. (Shelly Kerr to Arsenal.com)
Three consecutive league defeats was not how the Arsenal Ladies wanted to kick off a new season. Shelley Kerr, who stepped down as the manager of the club following their FA Cup final win this weekend, had already announced her decision after the Bristol Academy defeat. It was good that the team could at least give her a good send-off with the club’s record 13th FA Cup after beating Everton Ladies 2-0 at the MK Dons Stadium.
“I’ve seen it coming all year since the new players came in. They’ve trained like that every single day I’ve worked with them and I think in most of the games this season we saw evidence of it. It’s just unfortunate that up until today we haven’t been consistent without form in terms of playing for the 90 minutes. But we dominated today. I thought we had some brilliant individual performances but certainly a fantastic team performance as well. They thoroughly deserved to win today and I’m really, really proud of them.”
The announcement of a new manager is expected soon, but Kerr can leave knowing that she led the club to 3 trophies during her time at Arsenal – two consecutive FA Cups and the 2013 Continental Cup. Everyone at Gunners Town would like to wish the Scot good luck for her future endeavours.
It was veteran Kelly Smith who provided the initial inspiration with a fine free-kick in the top corner to send the Gunners 1-0 up on the first quarter mark. It was her 6th goal in an FA Cup final. The 35 year old was also involved in the build-up to the second goal in the 62nd minute. After some brilliant hold-up play, Smith passed it to Yukari Kinga who scored with a low shot into the corner – the Japanese becoming the first overseas player to score in an FA Women’s Cup final.
It could have been more goals for Arsenal, but for Everton keeper Rachel Brown-Finnis who made some athletic and competent saves. Of late, the Gunners have struggled with converting chances and being sharp in the final third, but can now hope to use the momentum from this much-needed victory to try and turn their domestic season around. The WSL resumes only at the end of June (June 29) with an away match against the Liverpool Ladies and the senior players are keen to make amends for the team’s inability to bring home 3 points in the league so far. They are currently at the bottom of the table with 1 point from 4 games (goal difference of -5).
“We’re just not clicking in front of goal. When luck isn’t on your side and you don’t score, the pressure starts to build. We’ve got to show character now, dig deep and keep fighting. Other teams are dropping points and there’s a long way to go.” (Kelly Smith to Arsenal.com)
Emma Byrne echoes this sentiment and believes that this cup win is a turning point that can rejuvenate their season. For more player interviews and updates, do check out the Arsenal Ladies Facebook page, this photo gallery of the FA Cup win, a chat with Kelly Smith about her free-kick goal in the final and a post-game chat with Shelley Kerr and Alex Scott. Speaking of Scott, she has written a piece about up and coming Arsenal youngster, Leah Williamson for BT Sport and done a round-up of all her team-mates before the FA Cup. (For those who want to get to know our players better, it’s a good place to start!)
Before I sign off, let me leave you with some more good news – A few days ago, the Arsenal Ladies Reserves (Southern Division) beat the Liverpool Ladies Reserves (Northern Division) with a 90th minute goal to win the FAWSL Development Cup.
There’s going to be a hiatus a few weeks for Gunners Fair as I go on holiday, but I’ll be back with more Arsenal Ladies, and hopefully even a live match review and experience – for now, all you lovely Gooners can celebrate and enjoy the fact that our club has completed an FA Cup double for only the second time (first was back in 1998). And Happy World Cup 2014, just a week to go!
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.