By Giuseppe Muro
Rachel Yankey believes Arsenal can overcome the odds to emulate the 2007 squad and win the Women’s Champions League next season.
Laura Harvey’s side saw their European dream end for another year as Olympique Lyonnais deservedly progressed to the Final with a 5-2 aggregate victory earlier this month.
The French giants, along with fellow Semi-Finalists Duisburg and Turbine Potsdam, have the backing of a professional set-up and Yankey knows that Arsenal’s non-professional status puts them at a disadvantage.
Nonetheless, after qualifying for next season’s competition with victory at Barnet in the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday, Yankey is confident the new generation can follow in the footsteps of Vic Akers’ quadruple-winning side.
“The players and quality we had in the team that won it in 2007 was probably better than the quality we have now,” the forward told Arsenal.com. “But there is no reason why we can’t step up to that level again.
“It’s a changed team from the team that played last season. There are a few players that are new to this team. On reflection of that and starting a new league at a different time, we can be very proud of what we have done [in this year’s Champions League].
“We are a semi-professional team but we only train twice a week. The amount of time player can touch the ball is limited and I think that showed [against Olympique Lyonnais].
“The way they passed the ball around and their knowledge of where each other were was far superior to us. That is something that has to get better.
“Even though we are in a semi-professional league it is obvious and evident that they train more often than us, both with each other and on the ball.”
The formation of the new Women’s Super League is expected to enhance the quality of the women’s game in England, though it will remain semi-professional. Yankey has seen first-hand the advantages that professional football can bring during her spell at Fulham and she admits it makes a huge difference.
“Training every day improves your movement, knowledge of where everyone is and your fitness. It just makes it so much easier.
“We need that quality of training more together as team I think.”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