Smith: Arsenal experience key in silverware hunt
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Arsenal’s experience of crunch games will come to the fore as they aim to keep alive hopes of further silverware this season, says England legend Sue Smith.
The Gunners won the Continental Tyres Cup for a record fifth time last week as they beat holders Manchester City at Adams Park.
They currently sit third in the Women’s Super League, seven points behind Chelsea, while they are still in the mix for the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
The record 14-time winners were due to play local rivals Charlton on Sunday in the quarter-finals but wintry weather saw the match postponed to next weekend.
That saw Arsenal in the hat for Monday’s semi-final draw, live on BBC Radio 5 Live with either Everton or Durham potentially lying in wait in the last four on April 15.
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And while Smith, twice a runner-up with Leeds United, knows they cannot be complacent against Charlton, she believes Arsenal should already be looking ahead to the semi-finals and a potential final appearance on May 5.
“They are used to winning, they know the drill and how to prepare for these big games,” she said.
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“Kim Little is just coming back from injury, Jordan Nobbs is a star player – they have quality through the side.
“Charlton are the lowest ranked team left but it is a bit of a derby for them. They will have dreamed of this chance, they’ve done so well to get this far, they’ve just got to take the opportunity.
“But you would put Arsenal down as favourites. And then you would have to say it will be Everton in the semi-final.
“Psychologically Arsenal hold the advantage as they have beaten them several times but Everton are capable of holding their own.”
Both semi-finals will be broadcast live on the BBC, with Smith believing it is further proof of the progress of the women’s game, after a record Wembley crowd of 35,271 for last year’s final.
“The SSE Women’s FA Cup is growing each year and that’s really pleasing to see,” she added.
“We had over 35,000 people come watch at Wembley last year and hopefully we can get even more this time around. For the players, the chance to run out at Wembley for the final is something very special. It’s the date in the women’s footballing calendar that people look out for.
“And now with both semi-finals being shown on the BBC it’s a chance to show off the game even more which is great.”
*Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday May 5 at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For more information about tickets and SSE’s involvement in women’s football visit sponsorship.sse.com.