By Joe Brewin
Arsenal Ladies have been scoring at will in recent months. Now Laura Harvey wants them to show their ruthless streak in defence.
Finding the net has not been a problem for the champions, with 18 goals scored in their last six matches. But the occasional lapse has caused the manager some concerns and she has called for a clean sheet as Arsenal prepare to face Chelsea in the Women’s Super League.
“We have scored a minimum of three goals in the last few games which is a really good, positive thing to look at,” Harvey told Arsenal.com. “But the one thing we want to try and get back to doing is being hard to beat.
“You can't rely on scoring three or four goals in every game and if you get a clean sheet you only necessarily have to score one.
“So we need to get back to being hard to beat, which we definitely will. We were really proud of our clean sheet record last season and we want to try and better that if we can.
“It is something we speak about quite a lot but we also want to keep that attacking flow going too. Sometimes you just have to find a nice balance and at the minute we are scoring a lot of goals and creating a lot of chances.
“But we just have to make sure we match that by being solid elsewhere. If we can do that we know we are a match for everybody.”
Arsenal face Chelsea for the fourth time in the space of just over two months at Wheatsheaf Park on Thursday, having already built a commanding lead at the top of the WSL.
Harvey’s side lead the ‘mini series’ by two wins to one after convincing victories in the league and Continental Cup, but the Ladies manager knows her side must not rest on their laurels after their disappointing FA Cup semi-final exit at the hands of the Blues.
“It is the fourth time we have played them this season so we know a lot about each other,” she said. “It is a big game, the last one before the break, and if we get three points then we set ourselves up well for the second half of the season.
“Chelsea have a good young squad and have brought in a few new players this year. I think some of those signings have probably been some of their better players in the first half of the season.
“But they also have a lot of players in their squad so their team is strong whichever side goes out there. I think they are a team that are trying to develop for the future and although some results have not gone their way I am sure they will be trying to put that right here.”
After only six matches the Ladies already have a five-point cushion with a game in hand, but Harvey is refusing to look past Thursday’s test ahead of a six-week break for the Olympics.
“We are in the driving seat, we can't deny that,” she said. “If we can win on Thursday we set ourselves up for a fantastic position in the second half of the season. We just have to make sure we don't look any further than that. To quote the old cliché, nothing is as important as the next game and that is Chelsea.”
Kelly Smith and Ellen White are in contention to start after their substitute appearances against Birmingham but Jayne Ludlow remains sidelined with a calf injury.Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source