Arsenal Ladies star says pressure will be on Chelsea in Women’s FA Cup final
- Credit: Archant
Leah Williamson has dismissed suggestions that Chelsea’s league victory over the Gunners will give them a psychological advantage when the teams clash again at Wembley.
Pedro Martinez Losa’s side slumped to a 2-0 defeat against the defending Women’s Super League champions at Meadow Park, Borehamwood, to maintain their inconsistent start to the campaign.
The two sides meet for the second time this season in the Women’s FA Cup final on May 14, with Chelsea favourites to retain the trophy they won last year against Notts County.
However, Williamson – who helped Arsenal to FA Cup success in 2014 – believes her side are more than capable of wresting the cup from the grip of their London rivals.
“Actually, this result kind of puts pressure on them, in my opinion,” said the 19-year-old. “Whoever turns up on the day in the FA Cup can go as far as they want to go and that means winning it.
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“I don’t think Chelsea will even be thinking about the league game and they shouldn’t be. We’ve got games leading up the final and hopefully those can take us back to winning ways.
“The FA Cup is like Arsenal’s cup – we’ve won it so many times and, although we let that slip last year, we’ve got a bit of fire in our bellies to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
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“I don’t think it was a matter of competitiveness [in the league game] – we matched them in that. We just weren’t good enough – in the first half, especially, we had a game plan and we weren’t sticking to it.
“Defensively I think we were fine but when we got the ball we didn’t do enough with it, which is a shame because if you look at the calibre of our players, everyone’s excited to see what we can do on the ball.”
Williamson was handed her initial opportunity to shine two years ago when midfielder Niamh Fahey – who is now a Chelsea player – suffered a cruciate ligament injury.
Despite featuring in every game during the Gunners’ run to the final, the teenager was named among the substitutes for their 2-0 win over Everton – but she aims to better that by making the starting 11 at Wembley.
“I got on the pitch but missed out on starting the cup final [in 2014] and obviously it would mean a lot to me to earn the right to wear the shirt on the day,” said Williamson.
“It’ll be a big day for me and my family – they’re here every single game at Borehamwood, so to be able to take them to Wembley is lovely. I’ll probably be crying my eyes out whether I’m starting or on the bench.”
As regards her prospects of starting in the final, Williamson’s versatility should count in her favour – as well as midfield, she has appeared in two other positions already this season.
Having covered for the suspended Jemma Rose in central defence for the quarter-final tie against Notts County, Williamson then filled in for left-back Emma Mitchell, who was banned for last week’s defeat to the Blues.
At this stage of her career, the Arsenal youngster is looking to keep her options open, adding: “Obviously I’d like to settle in one position soonish but right now I’ll play wherever I can.
“Having played in midfield for so long gives me better attributes as a centre-half. I’ve been told by a lot of the girls that, if I was to proceed as a centre-half, I could have quite a career ahead of me.
“But at the moment the most important thing for me is getting on the pitch and if I have to cement myself in any position I will do that in order to represent this club.”
Arsenal travel to Reading in the league on Wednesday night and also host Birmingham on Sunday at Meadow Park (kick-off 2pm).