By Joe Brewin
Laura Harvey believes Arsenal Ladies have the perfect opportunity to showcase their strengths when they take on Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.
Harvey’s side host their first ever Women’s Super League match on the hallowed turf - the first of two key fixtures against the Blues in just four days.
And the manager says supporters attending the game will see her side maintain the Club’s proud playing values on a perfect pitch.
“We dream on playing on pitches like it every week and when you get the opportunity to do that you want to cherish it and play the football on it which it deserves,” Harvey told Arsenal.com. “In our terms it’s ‘The Arsenal Way’.
“To go out there and show what this club is about on such a fantastic pitch will be something special. It gives us a chance to promote the Club, promote the league and promote women's football in general to the wider football audience.
“Obviously with Arsenal having such a massive following and Emirates Stadium being so special, some people can't get down to watch the men for different reasons so this may be their chance to come down and see the stadium.
“The fact that there is a game on might be that added bonus for not only that little bit of publicity but the chance to come and see how fantastic the Emirates actually is.”
Although they will be playing their first WSL match at Emirates Stadium, this is not the first time Ladies have featured at the Arsenal’s relatively new home. In May 2010, Harvey’s side sewed up their final Premier League trophy against a Leeds side including both Ellen White and Steph Houghton.
Although this game may be an early-season encounter, Harvey says it will be an occasion to savour.
“It is something we try and get in as much as possible and obviously every time it comes around everybody is excited to play in such a great stadium,” she said.
“It is always somewhere that the players want to play and it tends to be an extra-special night no matter what the meaning of the game is. The fact that we get to play at the Emirates in front of the Arsenal fans means it gives everyone that lift and determination to want to do well. Thursday will be no different.”
Arsenal can overtake their west London counterparts at the top of the table with victory on Thursday, having beaten Everton in an entertaining 3-2 win on the opening day of the season.
Harvey’s side face the Blues at Griffin Park in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final and the Ladies manager believes Arsenal must set the tone with a statement of intent at Emirates Stadium.
“They are two big games,” said the 31-year-old. “To play against the same opposition so close together is not ideal but you have to try and make sure that you stamp your authority in the first game to make sure the second takes care of itself.
“Chelsea have strengthened their squad over the winter as obviously we have too. They have a lot of younger players who are breaking into the senior England squad. Watching them play, again they try and play football so it should be a great occasion.”