For Arsenal Ladies and Shelley Kerr, Wednesday afternoon marks the dawning of a new era.
The Ladies welcome Italian side ASD Torres to Meadow Park in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, with Kerr taking charge of the team for the first time since succeeding Laura Harvey as head coach.
It promises to be a whirlwind start for the former Scotland Under-19s coach. Kerr begins her tenure with three games in a week and, while she is aware of Torres’ qualities, she insists that she and her new charges cannot wait to begin the season.
"We’ll try and do what we always do, and that’s play attractive football with an end product"
“Myself and the players, and everyone connected with the Club, can't wait to get going,” Kerr told Arsenal.com. “The girls have prepared very well for the game mentally. We're all really excited.
“We’ll prepare with attention to detail and make sure we’re very disciplined and organised. That’s the key words that I’ll use - discipline and organisation. We’ll try and do what we always do, and that’s play attractive football with an end product.
“Torres have got a few national players in the squad. In key areas in the spine of their team they've got lots of experience so that's something that we're well aware of.”
The Italian side’s domestic record this season makes impressive reading. They have won 20 of their 23 league games, losing just once. In striker Patrizia Panico, they possess the Champions League’s top goalscorer, with the 38-year-old having scored eight times in just four games.
While the Women’s Serie A runs over winter, Arsenal have not played a competitive game since November 7 last year.
Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Nottingham Forest was postponed and, while conceding the team were frustrated not to get their season underway at the weekend, Kerr is hoping the extra training sessions organised in place of that match will pay dividends on Wednesday.
“As a player, you want to play games,” she said. “There was a little bit of disappointment but we're going to need to focus on the games coming up. It is what it is sometimes.
"Torres have got a few national players in the squad. In key areas in the spine of their team they've got lots of experience so that's something that we're well aware of"
“You can't change these things. You've just got to react to the situation. We trained instead and it was a very good training session. Importantly, it was more preparation for Wednesday's game.
“Yeah, the game was off and you can't change that. The very fact that we had the opportunity to go and do a few things that perhaps we couldn't have was important. There's always a positive that comes from a negative.”
Kerr is set to be able to choose her team from an almost fully-fit squad, with only the pregnant Katie Chapman and recently-retired Faye White definitely not available at Meadow Park.
And ahead of her first game at her new home, the new head coach is backing the Arsenal Ladies supporters to make a difference.
“The support for the Club is massive,” Kerr said. “Especially in this home tie, that little bit of noise helps to motivate and inspire you. They are instrumental for us and I'm sure they'll be instrumental on Wednesday.
“Faye’s been an inspiration for many years over her time as captain and her dedication and commitment to the Club over her 16 years here has been nothing short of sensational.
“Katie is an ambassador and role model for every young girl involved in football. She's someone that everyone should look up to,” the head coach added on Chapman’s pregnancy. “She's had a couple of kids already and she looks after herself very well. In fact, last week she popped in to train and was joining in during parts of the session.”
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