By Joe Brewin
“We know that we have come a long way in these last 12 months and the trophies we have won have shown that,” declared Laura Harvey ahead of Arsenal Ladies’ Champions League quarter-final first leg against Gothenburg.
“We think that as a group we can go one step further and we truly believe that. Last year we got to the semi-finals and this year we want to try and go one better.”
The Ladies may have only kicked off their domestic season with Sunday’s FA Cup victory over Lincoln, but life at the top is unforgiving.
Harvey’s side resume their European campaign against Gothenburg on Wednesday, kicking off with a home tie against the Swedish outfit at Boreham Wood.
Arsenal edged past Linkoping on away goals at the same stage of the competition last year and Harvey insists her team will be better prepared this time around.
“It is very hard [playing the first leg at home] and it’s something we learned from last year,” she told Arsenal Player. “In our first leg against Linkoping we didn't play very well at all. We were sluggish, did not start very well and were punished for that.
“We did well to get the result we did at home last year, we have learned from that and have tried to make sure we prepared a little bit differently.
“I think Gothenburg will actually be a similar proposition to Linkoping so we have to be prepared for that.”
Gothenburg themselves are yet to kick off their domestic campaign and that will ensure the teams begin on an even keel, according to Harvey.
“I think they will be really tough,” she said. “They are in a similar boat to us in that their season is also during the summer, so they are only just starting back as well.
“Getting recent footage of them has been tough because obviously they haven't played too many games in the same way that we haven't.
“In terms of that we are on a level playing field, but if you are playing a German or a French team then they are fully into their season so they tend to have a little bit of an advantage over us.”
For Harvey, it is all about progression. Arsenal surpassed all expectations with their semi-final place last season before bowing out to eventual champions Lyon.
But the Ladies boss is confident that her team can upset the odds this time around after a fine season of domestic football.
“It is a massive motivation [to go further],” she said. “This time last year I thought it would be a massive achievement getting through the quarter-finals but this year our mentality is a bit different.
“It is not that we think Gothenburg are going to be easy, it is just that we are so driven and motivated to go that one step further. We know we have to get it right against Gothenburg but we are looking forward as much as we possibly can to try and make that dream come true.”
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