By Declan Taylor
Kim Little may have secured a domestic ‘treble’ and been dubbed the ‘new Kelly Smith’ in her first full season at Arsenal, but the precocious midfielder did have one major disappointment in 2008/09.
It came in the Uefa Women’s Cup when the Gunners were beaten 9-2 on aggregate by Swedish champions Umea in the Quarter-Final. The exit was even harder to swallow given that Arsenal won the first leg 3-2 at Boreham Wood.
But Little, who scored the winning goal on that night, believes that Tony Gervaise’s new-look Ladies will be motivated by the memories from Sweden.
“We’re obviously looking to retain the ‘treble’ but I would say definitely Europe is the ambition,” she told Arsenal.com.
“Going out last season is definitely a motivation to go further this season. It’s a new era for Arsenal Ladies and it will be onwards and upwards from here, hopefully in Europe.
“We didn’t play well over in Umea but of course the girls won it in 2007 so they already have a feel for it. It’s an incentive because it shows that Arsenal are capable of winning that trophy.
“Playing at the highest standard in Europe is so important so the new Champions League is a massive ambition for us.”
Vic Akers made the Smith-Little comparison after Arsenal’s League Cup Final victory over Doncaster in February. On her contribution last season, it’s easy to see why.
But for the 18-year-old, being compared to the world’s fifth best player is a little hard to comprehend.
“Yes it’s a massive compliment – and I’m not too sure about that,” she laughed.
“Kelly’s a great, great player and I’m some way off. But I just want to improve at a club like Arsenal. I take it onboard but I try not to think much about it.
“I played alongside her for just under a year and I loved watching her play. Everything she did was so good; the tempo of her play, the way she kept the ball and the way she scored goals out of nothing.
“You can look at her, see what she’s doing, then try and put it into your own game a bit. It was great having players like her to learn from. Not only technically but in terms of awareness as well.”Copyright 2016 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