Cup double would mean a successful season, says Arsenal Ladies star
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO
Gunners midfielder Jordan Nobbs feels the team deserve credit after reaching their second cup final in a season of managerial instability.
Arsenal retained the Women’s FA Cup in May despite the resignation of manager Shelley Kerr days before the final, and the club only recently named Spanish coach Pedro Martinez Losa as her permanent successor.
During the interim period, men’s Academy coach John Bayer and long-serving player-coach Kelly Smith have also taken charge of the Ladies side.
Despite the frequent changes, the Gunners are also through to the final of the Continental Cup following Sunday’s victory over Notts County – and Nobbs believes the team will emerge stronger from their experiences this season.
“We’ve had so many ups and downs this season and, as players, we’ve had to take a lot of responsibility and just go out there and play the way we can,” said Nobbs.
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“There are going to have been four managers by the end of the year. I was out injured earlier in the season, Kelly’s been in and out, and to win the FA Cup was a massive bonus for us.
“The way we’ve been playing, I think we deserve a lot more than we’ve got. We’re all chuffed at the way we’ve handled it and developed as a team and in the end it just makes you a stronger player.
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“We never thought we’d be in the position we are in the league, but we’ve got to take that on the chin and perform better next year. We want to win everything, whether we’re playing in the league or the cups.
“Now we’re just glad to be in another final again and I think we’d be very happy to finish the season with a cup double.”
For the first time in many years, Arsenal have not been in contention for the Women’s Super League championship and they currently lie fourth in the table, nine points off the pace.
However, Nobbs expects the arrival of Losa – who enjoyed a hat-trick of title wins in his homeland with Rayo Vallecano – to rouse the Gunners to a stronger challenge next season.
“We’ve met him once and, the way he came across, I think straight away we knew exactly what he wants to do,” said the 21-year-old England international.
“It’ll be nice to have a structure for the whole of the season. Obviously different managers come in with different strategies and it’s hard as a team to change week in, week out.
“Pedro’s been in Spain and America and he’s got a lot of experience to bring to us. To have him come in and settle us down will be great and hopefully we’ll be back in the title race next year.
“I’m sure Pedro will do a great job and I don’t why he can’t help us to win the league.”
Arsenal made a slow start to Sunday’s semi-final, repeatedly giving the ball away, but they created the better chances as Danielle Carter and a deflected effort from Rachel Yankey both struck the woodwork.
County goalkeeper Carly Telford made saves to foil Freda Ayisi and Carter either side of the interval, while Leah Williamson put the ball in the net, only for the goal to be ruled out for handball.
At the other end, Jess Clarke sent a glancing header wide and then broke late on to set up a chance for Katie Hoyle, but her shot was kept out by Emma Byrne, and the scoresheet remained blank at 90 minutes.
Williamson brought another diving stop from Telford in extra time, but the breakthrough finally arrived on 98 minutes as Smith set up substitute Caroline Weir (inset), whose left-foot drive beat the keeper.
Weir was denied a second by Telford soon afterwards, but the Gunners finally sealed their place in the final when Carter was tripped in the box and Smith steered the resulting penalty into the roof of the net.
Arsenal will face Manchester City, who overcame Chelsea 1-0, in next month’s final as they attempt to win the trophy for a fourth consecutive season.