England striker seeks to bring the winning habit back to Arsenal Ladies
- Credit: TGSPHOTO
Striker Lianne Sanderson is determined to play her part in recapturing a winning mentality at Arsenal Ladies in her second spell with the club.
Sanderson helped the Gunners to amass a total of 14 trophies – including five successive league championships and their only European success to date, against FC Umea – before leaving in 2008.
Success has been rather more infrequent in recent times, but the England international, who rejoined Arsenal from Boston Breakers during the close season, sees no reason why the club cannot regain their place at the top of the women’s game.
“The competition’s obviously got better, but Arsenal have always been a top team and we’ve showed that throughout the years,” said Sanderson.
“It’s important for us to find ourselves again and bring Arsenal back – to bring back that mentality we had many years ago, the reason why we won all those things.
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“Against Umea, we weren’t fully professional but we became European champions and that’s what we need to find again. The girls had a lot of adversity to deal with last year, with so many different coaches.
“There’s been a lot of transition, but they stuck together and it’s like that now. When I was here before, we were all best friends off the field.
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“It’s important that the new players coming in, the younger generation, try and carry on that mantle at the club. It’s a group effort – it can’t just be one or two players coming in and making a big effort.
“What I can do is bring my enthusiasm, my energy and be the best I can be. It takes a little while for things to gel, but winning breeds confidence and it’s important that we’ve got a couple of wins under our belts.”
So far, Sanderson has been deployed as a substitute for the Gunners, who drew their first Women’s Super League game at Notts County and have since recorded back-to-back wins over Bristol Academy and Manchester City.
But the 27-year-old is content to bide her time as she battles with several other internationals for a place in Pedro Martinez Losa’s starting line-up.
The Arsenal boss can also call on Spanish star Natalia, England trio Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey, and Danielle Carter, plus American star Chioma Ubogagu to operate in the front three positions.
“Natalia is one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” said Sanderson, who had a spell in Spanish football with Espanyol as well as featuring for Philadelphia Independence and DC United on the other side of the Atlantic.
“When she’s in that forward position, she’s the kind of player you dream of. She’s like Ruud van Nistelrooy, a sniper in the box, and she’s shown she’s capable of doing that at this level.
“Pedro’s got the job of choosing the best team and that may involve people playing out of position, but whoever goes out there will do the best they can.
“If I come on for 10 minutes, I’ll try to make an impact in those 10 minutes and, if I don’t play, I’ll be there to support my team-mates. I have a big responsibility to the younger players, trying to help them feel at ease with me.
“Sometimes people might be a bit intimidated by my style – or my hairstyle – but hopefully when they get to know me they find I’m one of the best team-mates there could be.”
Arsenal Ladies take on Sunderland in a league game at Meadow Park on Sunday, kick-off 2pm.