Arsenal Ladies and Spain striker sets sights on World Cup

Natalia Pablos Sanchon of Arsenal Ladies. Pic: TGSPHOTO

Natalia Pablos Sanchon of Arsenal Ladies. Pic: TGSPHOTO - Credit: TGSPHOTO

Spain striker Natalia Pablos Sanchon hopes her move to Arsenal Ladies can yield further silverware – and seal her place at this summer’s World Cup.

The 29-year-old forward won two league championships and the Spanish Cup in her homeland under the guidance of current Gunners boss Pedro Martinez Losa at Rayo Vallecano.

Now she is aiming for further success – and a spot in Spain’s squad for the Women’s World Cup – after leaving Bristol Academy to rejoin her former coach at Arsenal.

“I love playing in England, ever since I came to Bristol, and I’m really happy here so far,” said Natalia. “They’ve all made me very welcome in the team.

“Pedro was one of the reasons I came here, but also at Arsenal I’m surrounded by great players and I’m going to learn a lot from them. Kelly Smith is a legend and I know Lianne Sanderson from playing against her in Spain.

“It’s going to be an amazing experience – one of the most important in my career – and I want to win titles. That is my hope.

“I think this is possible and Arsenal is the perfect place to play good football and try to win titles. We will be fighting for the league until the end.

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“The Spanish coach is working with around 30 players now and we have a strong group. Obviously only 23 can go to the World Cup, but I feel confident and I’ve scored a few goals, so I hope I’ll be going.”

Natalia believes that team-mate Jemma Rose, who made the same move from Bristol during the close season, is also capable of featuring at the World Cup in Canada, which gets under way at the beginning of June.

Central defender Rose is a regular member of England’s Under-23 side and has been included recently in the senior squad, although she was left out for their friendly against China in Manchester this week.

Her new central defensive partner Casey Stoney was named in the squad by national coach Mark Sampson, along with fellow Gunners Sanderson, Alex Scott, Jordan Nobbs and Siobhan Chamberlain.

“I know Jemma as a player and a person and I think she’s one of the best centre-backs in England,” added Natalia. “She’s really important for us and she’s going to be playing for that England shirt.

“She’s captain for the Under-23s and she’s working really hard to play in the senior team so, if Mark [Sampson] wants her, I’m sure she can play in the World Cup.”

Both Natalia and Rose are expected to make their home league debuts for the Gunners against their former club, who visit Meadow Park on Wednesday (kick-off 7.45pm).

Before that, Arsenal must focus on their efforts to retain the Women’s FA Cup with a quarter-final at home to Chelsea – who have started their league campaign with two wins – on Sunday (2pm).

Manager Losa acknowledged that his team will face a sterner test than in the previous round, when they demolished Millwall Lionesses 7-0 – but he does not expect Chelsea to be bursting with confidence.

“The FA Cup is a competition that is also our favourite and we are really excited to be playing at home against Chelsea,” said the Gunners boss.

“It’s exciting as a coach when these big games are coming. Obviously Millwall was an important step but, if you want to win the FA Cup, you need the beat the best teams.

“However, I don’t think Chelsea will have a good feeling about coming to Borehamwood. I’m pretty sure they would prefer not to play against us.”

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