By Matt Fortune
Despite the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, Kelly Smith insists it has been another excellent year for Arsenal Ladies.
Eclipsing the 'Quadruple' achievements of the previous campaign was an impossibility, especially with a demanding World Cup disrupting the early part of the season. Nevertheless, the Gunners scooped another domestic Double, bringing their major trophy haul to 10 since 2005.
Smith travelled to China as part of an England team bursting with Arsenal players. There, the Three Lions often played in hugely impressive arenas with crowds of 35,000 and more. Understandably it was something of an anti-climax when the domestic competition got underway again.
Form duly suffered and in November the Gunners relinquished their grip on the Uefa Cup. French champions Lyon emerged victorious in an enthralling two-legged Quarter-Final. France had not qualified for the World Cup - a clear advantage against Vic Akers' tired troops.
Nonetheless, Smith was keen to accentuate the positives when she reflected on the entire campaign.
"It has been another excellent year for us, especially having got knocked out of Europe," she told Arsenal.com. "We were all down after that but picked ourselves up and I am thrilled we have come away with both the League and FA Cup.
"We should be quite proud of the season we had especially with some many Arsenal players being involved in the World Cup. That meant that some players haven't had a break in over 18 months. So a long hard year, but pleasing to have done the 'Double'.
International commitments will have no bearing on the Ladies next season. So does Smith expect more additions to the trophy cabinet in a year's time?
"Domestically Everton are closing the gap each year. They have quality right through their side. And then there is Leeds who got a 1-1 draw with us on the final game of the season.
"But Arsenal continue to have a quality team each season. Even with the likes of Everton and Leeds knocking on our door, we simply say 'bring it on'."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