Arsenal Ladies manager welcomes mid-season break for European Championships

This summer’s European Championships in Sweden mean Arsenal Ladies’ impressive run of form will be postponed until the Women’s Super League campaign resumes in August – but manager Shelley Kerr has welcomed the mid-season break.

A 2-1 win over Chelsea last Thursday lifted the Gunners into sixth place in the league following a run of six unbeaten games, including an FA Cup Final win and a quarter-final victory in the Continental Cup.

While the interruption to domestic games could therefore be seen as an annoyance, the manager is relishing the opportunity to reflect on the season so far and build for the future.

“It’s good to recharge because this season we’ve had something like 15 games since March, and that’s not taking into account what games the players have played internationally,” said Kerr.

“As you can imagine there’s quite a lot of players who are internationals at the club and they’ve played a lot of games, so I think it’s good timing for a bit of a regroup and recovery.”

The break also offers Arsenal’s contingent of England internationals – including Steph Houghton, Ellen White, Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey – the opportunity to sharpen their skills against some of the continent’s best, when Hope Powell’s side kick off in Linkoping against Spain on July 12.

“Obviously we know England are participating in the Euros, but equally I think that the club will see that as a positive thing, because the players are getting an opportunity to challenge themselves in a really intense environment, with some of the most talented players in Europe,” said Kerr.”

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Her mood might have been considerably less buoyant if Arsenal had failed to overcome their stuttering start to the season, which began with a surprise 4-0 home defeat to table-toppers Liverpool in May.

“It was certainly great for us to get back-to-back wins in the league [against Chelsea and Bristol Academy] and put ourselves in that position going into the second half of the season,” she said.

“It was highly important that we got some points on the board, so that we can regroup and assess how we develop even further as a team.”