Pre-Match Report

WSL: Bristol Academy v Arsenal - Preview

Jennifer Beatie with the FA Women's Cup
Jennifer Beattie with the FA Women's Cup

Once the trophy had been lifted and the champagne had been sprayed, Jennifer Beattie set about refocusing herself.

There was no big night out for the Arsenal Ladies squad after they secured the FA Women's Cup with a 3-0 victory over Bristol Academy on Sunday afternoon. Why? Because the teams meet again on Thursday afternoon for what is, despite coming at such an early part of the season, a crucial game for Shelley Kerr's team.

They travel to Stoke Gifford for the conclusion of a triple-header of fixtures between the sides, the first two of which the Ladies have won. They rallied from 2-1 down to grab a 4-2 win in the Continental Cup 11 days ago and followed that up with the aforementioned cup final victory at the weekend.

"We've not got off to a great start in the league so it is important to take that cup win and use it as momentum in the league season"

Jennifer Beattie

But while the Ladies have demonstrated characteristically strong form in the cup competitions, they are seventh in the WSL with one point from their first two games.

Bristol, the league's early pacesetters, have won all three of their opening fixtures and average three goals a game.

Labelling Thursday's clash as a must-win game would be slightly far-fetched. The truth is though, that in a league where each team plays only 14 fixtures, the Ladies need to embark on a winning run if they are to defend the league title they won in both 2011 and 2012.

"We've not got off to a great start in the league so it is important to take that cup win and use it as momentum in the league season," Beattie told "Hopefully we can get our first three points against Bristol.

"When any team loses to an opponent, they are going to want to beat them the next time they play. It's an even bigger game for us than the cup final really, because we need to get some points on the board. I think both teams will be just as fired up as each other."

For Beattie, Sunday's cup triumph was extra special. She played the last 20 minutes of Arsenal's cup final win in 2011, again against Bristol, but the victory at Doncaster Rovers' Keepmoat Stadium was the first time she had started when the Ladies have won the tournament.

Deployed at left back, Beattie produced a solid performance to thwart the threat of Bristol's wingers.

The 22-year-old has featured for the Ladies in a variety of positions over the course of her Arsenal career. She scored a Champions League hat-trick when playing as a striker in a 4-0 win against Barcelona at Meadow Park last October and has also performed steadily when called upon at the heart of defence.

"We've had so many big names over the years so it's a privilege to play anywhere for this club, be it at left back, up front or anywhere really," she acknowledged.

"It's a bit tricky to adjust from playing in one position to playing in another but I've trained in different positions and it's always been a part of my football. I've played everywhere over the past four or five years. If anything, I'm used to it. Whether it's across the front or the back line, you can at least go into the game able to play wherever the team needs you. I'm more than happy to play wherever.

"I've played everywhere over the past four or five years. If anything, I'm used to it"

"I'm just happy to be playing. I've had my fair share of time being on the sidelines so I'm more than happy to take any opportunity to get a start.

"Sunday was probably that bit more special for me. I've sat on the sidelines at times so it was nice to get a start and play most of the game as well. I think for the team in general, having get put out at the semis last year, it meant so much for everyone to win it again.

The cup win sealed boss Kerr's first trophy since taking charge of the Ladies at the start of February.

Beattie is impressed with the way the head coach has begun her tenure at the Club and believes that the Ladies will continue to improve under Kerr's guidance.

"She's done really well," Beattie remarked. "She came in a bit late as well. To come in a couple of weeks before our first game was probably a bit tricky but the team have adjusted well.

"It's still early days and she's already got her first trophy. Training has been good and there's been a really good vibe around so hopefully we can take that into the rest of the season."

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