WSL: Arsenal ‘will thrive’ under cup final pressure
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Boss Joe Montemurro has backed Arsenal Women to thrive under the pressure of a Continental Cup final meeting with Manchester City.
While their male equivalents were hammered 3-0 by City in the Carabao Cup final last month, Wednesday’s meeting at Adams Park is expected to be a much closer affair.
Just one place separates the two sides in the Women’s Super League table heading into the final of a competition the Gunners have won four times.
Manchester City Women are the current holders having seen off Birmingham in 2016 but this time they face a side synonymous with the cup.
Arsenal’s four victories have come in just six years after the tournament was first introduced in 2011, with the switch to a winter league meaning the Spring Series replaced the Continental Cup last year.
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But Montemurro insists Arsenal can cope with the pressure of going for a fifth crown in such a short period of time.
Asked if clubs can gain momentum in a cup competition, much as Arsene Wenger’s side did by winning three FA Cups in four years, Montemurro told Press Association Sport: “I think so. The idea of being the best we can in all competitions is part of the DNA and to win trophies and tournaments is what we are about.
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“I suppose there is always pressure at the highest level so it comes with the profession, they are able to thrive under these levels of pressure and produce.
“Like anything it is a one-off game, it is all or nothing on the day so obviously you prepare for the team you’re playing against but not losing your own style and the way you want to play, but also make sure you cover off everything that could happen.”
This is Arsenal Women’s first chance of silverware since the club dropped the ‘Ladies’ from their name last July.
The club are known as Arsenal, except when clarity and distinction from the men’s set-up is required, but Montemurro explains that it goes much deeper than sharing a name.
“It is quite well integrated and there really is a great amount of respect between the two teams,” he added.
“The whole one-club policy is really something that does exist and is great to be a part of. In terms of sport science, fitness staff and the medical staff they are all aligned so we all have a philosophy that we try to play and we try to adhere to that.
“All credit to Arsenal for embracing the women’s game from day dot and building a bit of a dynasty.
“It is great to be a part of and part of that idea is to win as many trophies as we can and be the best.
“They were the trailblazers and paved the way to have this level of success and always try to be the innovative and creative professional team to go forward.
“It is just the nature of where Arsenal as an organisation see women’s football – it shows in the fact we share the facilities with the men’s team and the Under-23s.
“It just further proves the integration and that it isn’t a token gesture and that women’s football is growing and is an important part of the Arsenal DNA.”
It is also in the DNA of Arsenal Women to win trophies, lifting no less than 43 since their inception, and Montemurro will be hoping to bask in success for the first time since taking charge in November with victory in Wycombe.