Pre-Match Report

WSL: Arsenal v Birmingham - Match Preview

By Joe Brewin

Laura Harvey says her side must show their class to prove they still remain “a step ahead” of nearest rivals Birmingham.

The Blues ran Arsenal close in last season’s Women’s Super League campaign before being overhauled by Harvey’s treble winners.

Birmingham inflicted a rare Gunners defeat in last season's corresponding fixture and Harvey insists her team will be out to make amends at Meadow Park on Sunday.

“It is always a big game and being at home we want to make sure that we can put on a performance where we can show people that we are still that one step ahead,” she told

“Birmingham are very similar to last season and if you look at both teams' results this season they are pretty much the same as those against the same teams last year.

"So if we can make sure that we avoid defeat on Sunday then we are already in a better place than we were 12 months ago.

“We think we have had a poor start to the season but in terms of the league campaign we are in exactly the same state as we were. But that also means Birmingham are also in the same place as one year ago.

“It is the games against each other that can often dictate a league campaign when things are so tight. To come into a game like this we know we have to make sure that we put things straight after our league defeat against them last year at home.”

After more than a month away Arsenal returned to Meadow Park with a fine Continental Cup victory over Chelsea. And Harvey believes her side are a match for anybody at their Hertfordshire base.

“We love playing at Meadow Park and last year losing to Birmingham there hurt us badly,” admitted the 32-year-old. “We have to learn from that and look at things we've been doing well of late.

“Obviously we have not had a lot of preparation time with the girls being away on international duty but anybody who comes to Borehamwood knows they are going to get a tough game. Hopefully Sunday won't be any different.

“Last season we managed to claw our way back into it and get the results when needed, and Birmingham fell a little bit by the wayside when the pressure was on them. I am sure they will be coming here on Sunday hoping to do exactly what they did to us last year. Our job is to make sure that doesn't happen.”

Harvey has a near fully-fit squad to choose from, including striker Kelly Smith who has yet to feature since rejoining the Club in March.

No fewer than nine players came through unscathed from Thursday’s international Euro 2013 qualifiers and Harvey is delighted she has the resources available for Sunday’s crucial clash.

“We are pretty much back to full strength so for the first time I am able to pick a team out of every player that is available,” she said. “I have now got to pick a team to beat Birmingham and that is the priority.

“Obviously there have been girls who have been away and had tough games and that is something we have got to take into account. Ultimately we just have to get the right mixture of players and the right chemistry to beat them.”

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