By Chris Harris
Jayne Ludlow believes Arsenal Ladies are favourites to reach the UEFA Women's Cup Final after grabbing two away goals in Denmark on Saturday.
Vic Akers' side are within touching distance of their first European showpiece after Kelly Smith's double forced a 2-2 draw with Brondby. Ludlow, captain in the absence of the injured Faye White, took heart from Arsenal's display.
"We would have taken a 2-2 draw before the game but although we are happy with the two away goals we are disappointed that we led twice and then let them back into the game," Ludlow told Arsenal.com. "But we'll take the positives and we're looking forward to the second leg when we have home advantage.
"We started quite slowly in Copenhagen, partly because we struggled a bit with the size of the pitch. That meant we couldn't press as tightly as we wanted but we got to grips with it and had a better spell in the second half.
"I think it was a pretty even game, they were better than when we played them a couple of months back. Kelly scored the first with a free kick and we're annoyed that we let them back in. We went out to play our normal game, to try and get the ball down.
"I'd say we're favourites now we have two away goals. We can go through with a 0-0 draw and the girls will take a lot of confidence from the fact we scored twice over there."
As Ludlow says, a goalless draw would suffice next Saturday but if Arsenal need to score they will have to do so without the prolific Smith. The England star was sent off for two bookable offences towards the end of the first leg and will watch from the stands at Meadow Park.
Smith has been an influential figure since rejoining Arsenal in 2005 but Ludlow believes there is sufficient depth in Akers' squad to fill the void left by Smith's suspension.
"I think the referee was a bit picky with Kelly in Denmark," said Ludlow. "She got an early yellow card and then got another one when she pulled a player back. I suppose the letter of the law said she had to go but there was a lot of niggly stuff against Kelly which the ref didn't pick up on.
"We'll miss Kelly but I think we'll go with the
same tactics in the second leg even though she won't play. We
can move people around a bit because we've got an abundance of
"We know we only need a 0-0 or 1-1 draw so we might be a bit tighter at the start of the first half, we might not release as many midfielders forward. But we have been in this position before and failed at the final hurdle so we are determined to get through this year.
"The fans will be really important. If we could pack Meadow Park out that would be great. The crowd have been immense at our European games in previous years and hopefully they can be our 12th player against Brondby this Saturday."6 Nov 2006