Arsenal star needs no extra motivation for Champions League clash

Emma Mitchell of Arsenal Ladies

Emma Mitchell of Arsenal Ladies - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Emma Mitchell insists the prospect of a Champions League quarter-final place is all the incentive Arsenal need in their all-British showdown with Glasgow City.

The Gunners’ Scotland international, who can play on the left side of defence or midfield, is relishing the chance to line up against her former club in the first leg of their last-16 clash this weekend.

Arsenal host the Scottish champions at The Hive, Barnet, on Saturday (kick-off 1pm) before heading north for Wednesday’s return match at Petershill Park (7pm).

However, Mitchell says that – apart from catching up with old friends – returning to the club where she made her name is no big deal against the backdrop of an opportunity for European glory.

“Obviously when I saw the draw I was looking out for it and hoping we’d get Glasgow City,” Mitchell told the Gazette. “It’ll be good to see a few familiar faces.

“I spent four and a half seasons at the club and I’ve got some good friends there – [midfielder] Jo Love and [defender] Eilish McSorley are probably two of my best friends.

“Petershill’s quite a small ground, so if they can fill it there’ll be a good atmosphere and of course it’ll be exciting to play there in front of my family and friends.

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“But this is the last 16 of the Champions League, so there’s a lot to play for anyway. We know what’s at stake – we go through to the quarter-finals if we win this one and that’s all the motivation we need.

“Being able to compete for trophies every year is what every player wants to do and it doesn’t matter which opponents we’re playing against, we still have to go in with the same attitude.”

Glasgow, who overcame Standard Liege 5-3 on aggregate to reach this stage while the Gunners brushed aside Kazakh side Kairat by an 18-2 margin, are aiming to become the first Scottish quarter-finalists in the competition’s history.

City only concluded their league programme last weekend, having long since wrapped up their seventh straight Scottish title.

By contrast, Arsenal finished their domestic campaign more than a month ago, when they beat Lincoln to retain the Continental Cup, but Mitchell does not expect that hiatus to put her side at a disadvantage.

“A lot of us have been away on national team duty, so we’ve been playing high intensity games frequently enough and it’ll be the same for Glasgow,” the 21-year-old pointed out.

“They’ve had a lot of players away with the national team and that will have broken up their routine, so I don’t think that’ll have too much of an impact on either of these games.

“I’m looking forward to playing at Barnet again – we played well there in the Continental Cup final. Hopefully we can get a good result and that’ll set us on our way for the away leg up in Glasgow.”