We’re gun­ning for you, City!

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Chris Bai­ley

A SEA­SON with­out sil­ver­ware is sim­ply un­think­able for Ar­se­nal, but goal­keeper Emma Byrne fears her side will not win the Women’s Su­per League 1 ti­tle should they lose to Manch­ester City tonight.

The Gun­ners have re­cov­ered from a blip in form ei­ther side of the World Cup to win their last two league matches and move neck-and­neck with the sea­son’s sur­prise pack­age Sun­der­land at the top of the ta­ble.

But with ti­tle ri­vals Chelsea, Liver­pool and the Black Cats all to play in the fi­nal weeks of the sea­son, Byrne knows they can­not af­ford any more slip-ups, start­ing tonight at Bore­ham Wood.

“If Man City beat us I don’t think the league ti­tle is in reach – we have to win ev­ery sin­gle game if we want to win the league from here on in,” said the 36-year-old.

“But the last time we played them we beat them 1-0 and I felt like it could have been more, it’s one of those games where you’re qui­etly con­fi­dent of win­ning.

“I al­ways wished that the com­pe­ti­tion would get bet­ter be­cause play­ing good teams gives me some­thing to do, but now I’d be happy to go back to the way it al­ways was!

“We’ve played Sun­der­land once and beaten them. I’m not sure how well they’ve been play­ing against the other big teams but I’m re­ally sur­prised they’re up there.

“I don’t think they are go­ing to win the league but they are on a run and it’s great to see them come through. You do fear their play­ers, such as Beth Mead, will be snapped up by big­ger clubs.”

If the Gun­ners are to win an as­ton­ish­ing 42nd tro­phy of their 28-year history then Byrne, who joined back in 2000, be­lieves play­ing the ‘Barcelona way’ will be the key.


While Chelsea and Manch­ester City have packed their squads with Eng­land stars, Ar­se­nal have kept up with the times too, with new boss Pe­dro Martinez Losa weav­ing a touch of Span­ish silk into their play since his ap­point­ment last Septem­ber.

The 38-year-old came to promi­nence by bring­ing suc­cess to Rayo Val­le­cano, and Re­pub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tional Byrne, who has more than a cen­tury of caps to her name, says his mes­sage is be­ing re­ceived loud and clear.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult at the start of the sea­son, we didn’t have much time to­gether – with six or seven new faces it was al­ways go­ing to be tough to gel in time,” added Byrne, who is mar­ried to for­mer QPR de­fender Mar­cus Big­not.

“We strug­gled a lot with that but Pe­dro has come in with his coach­ing phi­los­o­phy and now we’re get­ting used to it.

“You can re­ally see that to­geth­er­ness in the team now, and we’re get­ting the re­sults.

“Pe­dro is a typ­i­cal Span­ish man­ager, he en­cour­ages you to play with the ball at your feet that you’d as­so­ciate with Barcelona.

“It’s the way ev­ery team is go­ing now, you can’t be left be­hind. It’s about build­ing from the back and we’re be­com­ing more and more con­fi­dent.We have nat­u­rally done it that way, but Pe­dro is adamant about it and we’re now more aware.”


SAFE HANDS: Ar­se­nal’s Emma Byrne is tar­get­ing vic­tory against Manch­ester City tonight and, inset, holds the FA Women’s Su­per League tro­phy in 2011 ABOVE: Eng­land skip­per Steph Houghton cel­e­brates her win­ner for Manch­ester City against Chelsea in the FA Women’s Su­per League two weeks ago

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