Arsenal Ladies aim to regain their goal touch in cup final

Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr

Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr - Credit: EMPICS Sport

Arsenal Ladies manager Shelley Kerr is urging her players to rediscover their sharpness in front of goal as they chase silverware in Friday’s Continental Cup final.

The Gunners struggled for goals towards the end of their Women’s Super League campaign, with tomorrow’s opponents Lincoln Ladies forcing a 0-0 draw that began to loosen their grip on the title.

Overall, Kerr’s team have failed to beat Lincoln in three attempts so far this season – each meeting ending in a draw – and they must try to break that sequence in Friday’s final at The Hive, Barnet (kick-off 7.30pm).

“Lincoln are a team that have caused us problems in the past and they’ve taken more points off us in the league than anyone else,” said Kerr.

“They have a game plan and they make it difficult. It’s not been for lack of quality that we’ve not managed to beat them and it’s up to us to be patient and find a way to break them down.

“Hopefully we can find that cutting edge this time. We need to concentrate on doing our thing well and being a bit more ruthless – small margins make all the difference in football.

“We’re really looking forward to the final. It’s not about medals so much – often you put those somewhere you can never find them! It’s about the memories and you want to remember finals for all the right reasons.

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“If you’re not motivated in a cup final there’s something wrong. I’ll do my best to prepare them as well as I can and I’m absolutely certain they’ll be well up for it.”

The Gunners have won the trophy for the last two seasons, but this year’s final has arguably taken on greater significance following their failure to retain the league title.

That disappointment was already inevitable prior to the FA decision that cost Arsenal three points after not correctly renewing the registration of midfielder Katie Chapman for their game at Liverpool in August.

It was a sentence that also ended the Gunners’ hopes of even finishing as runners-up, with Liverpool and Bristol Academy occupying the top two places.

But Kerr refutes the idea that standards may have dropped at a club synonymous with relentless success in the women’s game over so many years.

“The club has been about winning for many seasons and obviously there were unfortunate circumstances, but I think if you compare results with last season we’re pretty much on track,” she added.

“It’s by no means been a disaster considering the transitional period the club’s gone through. You want to win everything and unfortunately that’s not possible this year.

“But for an outsider looking in and thinking ‘why haven’t Arsenal won the league?’ the fact is that other clubs are bridging the gap – they have more resources and I think it’s great that there are other teams competing.

“And, if you look at our results against the top two, we’ve lost once to Liverpool and we haven’t lost at all against Bristol. So I don’t think anyone should doubt our ability as a team.”

Arsenal also begin their Champions League campaign next week, when they travel to Kazakh club Kairat in the last 32.