Arsenal Ladies boss backs ex-Liverpool forward to succeed

Arsenal's Asisat Oshoala

Arsenal's Asisat Oshoala - Credit: Archant

Arsenal Ladies boss Pedro Martinez Losa is backing Asisat Oshoala to be a long-term success despite a slow start to her Gunners career.

The Nigeria international joined Arsenal in March after an impressive season with Liverpool, but has yet to find the net in six Women’s Super League appearances for her new club.

However, the 21-year-old forward set up the second goal in the Gunners’ 5-1 victory over Sunderland Ladies at the weekend before limping off with an ankle injury.

And Losa has made it clear that he regards the former Reds player as an integral part of his front line, along with the likes of Natalia, Kelly Smith and Dan Carter.

“Asisat joined late, so she didn’t join us for pre-season. It’s a big change coming to a new club and it’s not easy for a player coming from another culture as well,” said the Gunners manager.

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“She’s training fantastically well, she wants to learn everything and she’s making big progress – and nobody can question the attitude she has, or her physicality.

“She’s going in the right direction for us and she brings good energy and there’s more to come from her. Part of your job as a manager is to recognise the talent in every girl and try to put all the pieces together.

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“With the talent Natalia has in front of goal, she can have five opportunities and score four and there’s not many players in the world capable of doing that.

“When we have a quick player like Asisat and another player who can score goals, then we have someone like Kelly Smith who can change games, we use the players depending on how the game is.

“They understand that and respect it, which is the way we can build a fantastic team. The most important thing is that we have players who are capable of developing the ideas we want them to.”

Oshoala is rated as doubtful for Arsenal’s league clash at Birmingham on Wednesday night, but should be available again when they begin their defence of the Continental Cup against Reading on Saturday.

Losa’s side made short work of Sunderland on their return from the mid-season break, with visiting captain Stephanie Bannon turning Danielle van de Donk’s cross into her own net in the second minute.

Oshoala then burst clear to force a second own goal from the unfortunate Bannon before Natalia tucked in Vicky Losada’s cross to make it 3-0 on the half-hour mark.

Natalia ran onto Losada’s ball over the top to fire home her second 10 minutes later and substitute Dominique Janssen’s deflected effort made it 5-0 before Beth Mead netted a late consolation for the visitors.

“I wish we had not conceded that goal from a defensive point of view, but I’m pleased with the performance and I can’t have any complaint with the players,” added Losa.

“When you play well you stay with feet on the floor and you still say ‘we can do it better and keep growing as a team’. Every day we’re going to be better and better.”

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