Arsenal Ladies star confident of overcoming Chelsea again

Arsenal Ladies midfielder Fara Williams (left) tangles with Katie Chapman of Chelsea. Pic: Gavin Ell

Arsenal Ladies midfielder Fara Williams (left) tangles with Katie Chapman of Chelsea. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Fara Williams feels Arsenal Ladies have added a physical edge to their game as they strive to narrow the gap on the Women’s Super League leaders.

The Gunners came through an often bruising encounter with Notts County last weekend to triumph 2-0 and climb back to third place in the table.

That leaves Williams and her team-mates six points behind front-runners Manchester City Women and five adrift of second-placed Chelsea – their next opponents on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).

The Gunners overcame Chelsea the last time they met, in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley – and midfielder Williams says they need to replicate that performance in the league this weekend.

“With this team at Arsenal, we can beat anybody when we bring what we brought in the FA Cup final,” said Williams.

“But you have to play the physical game as well as the pretty game. Arsenal are known to play football and try to make the football look good, but you don’t always win games like that and I think this team’s now realising you’ve got to earn the right to play.

“I think we have to mix it in most games – it’s the same in the men’s game. You don’t have the opportunity to play every time and you have to match the opposition physically.

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“We proved that in the FA Cup final against Chelsea and we’ve done that well against Notts County, but we can’t relax – we have to continue and take it into Sunday’s game.

“Chelsea are a top team – they rotate their front four all the time and they’ll put you under pressure. It’ll probably be a tight game early on but I’m sure it’ll open up.

“We need to win most of our games and hope for other results, but we’ve still got to play Man City and Chelsea this season, so it’s in our hands to take points off them and close the gap.”

Goals from Danielle van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs secured victory for Arsenal against Notts County, and they remain unbeaten in all competitions since their Wembley triumph.

However, Sunday’s win was only the third time they had avoided conceding in the league this campaign – and Williams says the shut-out holds greater significance than her own goal contribution.

The 32-year-old England star, who joined the Gunners from Liverpool at the start of the campaign, has scored four goals in cup competitions but is yet to register in the league.

“It’d be nice to get a goal in the league but for me it’s more important that we keep a clean sheet,” said Williams. “I’m a holding midfielder and I hate to concede goals, a bit like the goalkeeper and the back four!

“If I score it’s a bonus and I’m more pleased that we kept a clean sheet than I would be at scoring two like last week [against Reading in the Continental Cup].

“We needed the result, we needed the clean sheet and we move forward to Chelsea.”