New head coach Shelley Kerr may only have taken charge of two competitive fixture but she is already well aware of the winning ethos demanded at Arsenal Ladies.
Kerr takes her team to FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division side Nottingham Forest in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday after starting her tenure with a 4-1 aggregate win against ASD Torres in the Champions League quarter-final.
An impressive performance against the Italians injected Kerr with fresh optimism that her squad can maintain the high standards the Club have set since their inception in 1987.
"Arsenal have been so dominant in every cup competition that they play domestically that it really hurts when you don’t win something"
“I saw enough evidence of our play on Wednesday to excite me as a coach,” she told Arsenal.com after the first leg win against Torres. “There's some areas that need to improve but some of the play was fantastic. The early signs are really promising.
“We've had to cope as a club with having a new coach in, and adapting and changing to new ways. Sometimes that can be hard.
“Seeing how well the players reacted in such an important game on Wednesday has sent out a great message to me. It reinforces the professionalism at this club.”
The Ladies go into Sunday’s rearranged game with the memory of last season’s FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea still fresh.
That loss prevented the team from securing a second successive domestic treble. Kerr is relishing Sunday’s tie and believes her side will use the pain of last year's setback as motivation for all competitions.
“Arsenal have been so dominant in every cup competition that they play domestically that it really hurts when you don’t win something,” she said.
“I know from my brief spell here that they are keen to make amends for last season. It’s a long way off. We have to make sure we get through the first game on Sunday and that’s our priority and our focus.
“What we have to do is take care of ourselves and play the football we can play. We have to be aware that we're playing against a team that will be desperate to compete against us, because we're Arsenal Ladies.
“We need to do our job well and expect a battle. We had a physical game on Wednesday and we're going to have to experience that again I assume.
“I said before that I don't feel that it's pressure. I see this job as a challenge. The good thing is that the first challenge is out of the way.
“I feel very settled and I feel that everyone at the Club has contributed to me feeling that way. I'm really excited.”
One player who could miss out on the trip to the Midlands is Kelly Smith. The forward limped off in the first half of the first leg against Torres, though the extent of her injury is not yet clear.
“Because it's so competitive and so challenging, you need a strong squad so that you can keep players fresh and get the best out of them,” Kerr said. “It's always about a squad and never about the first 11. Managing the squad will be important this season.”
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