The Arsenal Ladies are on track to finish their season on a potential high after two wins, one narrow loss and the appointment of a new manager.
Pedro Martinez Losa was named Arsenal first team manager at the end of August and will take up the reins from September 15, 2014. His first match in charge is on September 20 against Bristol Academy in the WSL. Until then, player-coach Kelly Smith continues to look after the squad’s preparations. The 38-year-old was the assistant coach at Western New York Flash in the USA National Women’s Soccer League since summer 2012. Before that he was Head Coach for Rayo Vallecano Femenino in Spain, whom he coached to a Spanish Cup in 2008 (the first major trophy in their history) and a league title in 2009 and 2010, as well as the last 16 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League during the 2010/11 season.
Arsenal General Manager Clare Wheatley was equally appreciative about the UEFA “A” License holder.
“We are excited to welcome Pedro to the club. He is a fantastic coach, with experience of working at the top of the women’s game in both the United States and Spain and we look forward to him getting underway.”
Arsenal Ladies not only moved into the top half of the WSL table, but they also made it into yet another Continental Cup final after beating Notts County 2-0. The Gunners were taken into extra time by a team that had frustrated them on two prior occasions. Caroline Weir scored in the 99th minute and Kelly Smith scored a penalty in the 117th minute. This semi-final win was all the more important after the Ladies’ narrow loss to league leaders Chelsea at Meadow Park three days prior. In the Chelsea game, Danielle Carter opened the scoring in the 10th minute before winning a penalty ten minutes later. But Casey Stoney couldn’t convert and Chelsea equalised through a penalty of their own in the 25th minute. The visitors were rising in confidence and went ahead through Jackie Groenen less than 5 minutes later. But Arsenal Ladies came back strong as Leah Williamson made it 2-2 before the half-time break. The second half kept the score level until the 88th minute when Ji So Yun made the most of keeper Byrne’s mis-kick to give Chelsea a slim 3-2 win.
Prior to that on September 1, 2014, Arsenal beat Birmingham 2-1 through goals via Casey Stoney (23) and Freda Ayisi (70) even as Birmingham scored a consolation in stoppage time from a penalty.
In the Continental Cup final, Arsenal face Manchester City who beat WSL leaders Chelsea courtesy of a Toni Duggan goal. Player-coach Kelly Smith was all praise for the side and confident of their ability to concentrate and be consistent in the remaining games. She also promised that the Arsenal Ladies would fight for their place in the top flight of English women’s football.
“Arsenal Football Club is all about getting to finals and winning trophies, so we’ve put ourselves in a fantastic position in our second cup competition this year. It’s pleasing because it’s been a tough season. We’ve managed to get to the final so everybody’s thrilled to be there. The team’s flying high at the minute. We had a little bit of deflation after Chelsea because I didn’t feel we deserved to lose that game – I thought we were worthy of a point. We were very good first half so we’ve got to try to keep that going and just try and work our way up the WSL table.”
The club continue their efforts to increase the awareness and support for grass-root level girls and women’s football with a new community initiative. The player development programme which targets the age group of 7-14 year olds has already launched on September 9, 2014 and will run all the way into March depending on which block you book your place in. The venue is Aldenham School, Elstree Hertfordshire WD6 3AJ and all details can be found here.
For regular fans and followers of the Arsenal Ladies, there is also an online feedback survey until September 29, 2014.
That is all for now, stay sane and safe fellow Gooners!
Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.