With the fixtures list for the 2013 FA WSL season now announced, we felt it was high time to begin our previews for the new season, beginning this week with champions Arsenal.
Manager – Shelley Kerr
Appointed in February 2013 following the departure of Laura Harvey, who had led the club to successive FA WSL titles in 2011 and 2012, to the newly reformed Seattle Reign. Formerly Head Coach of the Scotland U19s team, Kerr brings a connection to the current Arsenal squad through her work with first-team members Kim Little and Jennifer Beattie.
Last Time Out
Champions for the second year in a row.
Blessed with talent throughout their ranks, from England and Arsenal legends Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey to Olympic breakthrough star and reigning England Player of the Year Steph Houghton, Arsenal are a side with a true abundance of talent in all areas of the pitch. It is the presence of 22 year-old attacking midfield maestro Kim Little that really sets them apart. With 58 goals in her 52 Arsenal appearances to date and 75 caps for Scotland, Little is already delivering on her potential to be one of the true greats of women’s football.
Picking out a weak-link in the back-to-back champions is a tough, and somewhat pointless exercise. That said, despite her presence as Ireland player of the year, ‘keeper Emma Byrne has a tendency to drift off her line on occasion. Wiley opposition managers will have noted that Megan Harris, Kate Longhurst and, in spectacular style, Aine O’Gorman all beat Byrne from range last season with shots that looped over the ahead-of-her-line ‘keeper.
Home vs. last year’s runners up, Birmingham Ladies, 24/03/2013 (Continental Cup)
Frankly, anything less than another title shot would be hugely surprising. The team will lose some players to the Euro 2013 campaign, yes, but with the depth of talent available to them and an admirable commitment from the wider Arsenal community to support its Ladies team, all the ingredients for a third title are well in place.