Arsenal Ladies don’t usually do goalless draws. But they go into their penultimate league game against Birmingham Ladies on Sunday on the back of two shut-outs that have severely dented their hopes of retaining their Women’s Super League crown.
The Gunners now have to rely on both Liverpool and Bristol Academy dropping points if they are to leapfrog them at the top of the table. However, stranger things have happened, particularly when you consider that the aforementioned teams meet in their final game.
Lincoln and Bristol adopted very similar tactics in their recent visits to Meadow Park, putting 11 players behind the ball hoping to catch Shelley Kerr’s team on the counter-attack. Gemma Davison is philosophical about how teams play against Arsenal.
“Every team in the league has been doing the same,” she told Arsenal.com.
“You can’t criticise our workrate to try and keep the ball as much as we can in the final third. It hasn’t been working for us at the moment but we’ve been working really hard in training to make sure we get the result we need on Sunday.
“We’ve been doing a lot of video analysis and working on our final third play. We’ve also been working on our crossing and finishing so hopefully that will help us break teams down.”
It's easy to forget that before this mini-drought started, Arsenal were scoring goals at will, netting 25 times since returning from the summer break.
"I’m positive about my performances this season, I think I’ve been quite consistent and I’ve caused defenders I’ve played against a lot of hassle"
Striker Danielle Carter scored seven of those goals and was rewarded with an England call-up, a feat that Davison still hopes to achieve in the near future.
“Dan has done the business in this second half of the season. We all knew she could do it and she always had the talent. She’s worked really hard this year so she deserves to be in that squad.
“I’m positive about my performances this season, I think I’ve been quite consistent and I’ve caused defenders I’ve played against a lot of hassle. I just need to keep working hard in training and maybe one day I will get a call-up as well.
“I’ve always been one to try and get fitter, I think my left foot needs improvement as well, I’ve scored one with my left this year but I would like to score a few more.”
Davison has a good record against Birmingham this season having scored in both of the two previous meetings. The West Midlands side finished second behind Arsenal in 2011 and 2012 but have struggled to keep up with the pace this campaign.
Despite that, Davison thinks the Blues have the potential to cause an upset and hailed the quality of their squad.
“Birmingham always pose a lot of threats," she said. "Jo Potter’s very technically talented in the middle and if you give her time on the ball she can cause trouble with her wide range of passes, she is really intelligent on the ball.
“Karen Carney is also good on the ball and has got a lot of experience at this level, they’re also pretty solid at the back with Laura Bassett, plus Rebecca Spencer in goal.
“The most important thing is thinking about ourselves and make sure our preparations are right to ensure we go into the game in the right frame of mind.
“Hopefully this time we can put our chances away.”
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