By Isaac Moore
“It’s about being patient. We know against most teams we will have a lot of the ball and we’re able to keep the ball. The key is not to panic and stay focused on the main goal of getting three points no matter what the score in the game is.”
These were the words of the highly-experienced Rachel Yankey, who knows a thing or two about winning league titles with Arsenal Ladies. The England international is coming to the end of her eighth season in her second stint at the Club and is hungrier than ever to add yet another winner’s medal to her glowing honours list.
"She holds the ball up well, brings people into the game and is finishing off her chances superbly at the moment"
Shelley Kerr’s side have approached the run-in just as any reigning champions should - by scoring goals for fun and, more importantly, winning games.
The Gunners have four league matches remaining, three of them at home, starting with the visit of Lincoln Ladies on Thursday.
“I’m not sure if having lots of home games is an advantage,” Yankey told Arsenal.com. “But we are obviously happy with it because we don’t have to do too much travelling.
“Teams love to come to Arsenal to try and beat us on our own patch. We know that every team gives their maximum when they come to Meadow Park because they all want the bragging rights.
“But we’ve got experienced players, a settled team and we’re not getting carried away. It’s plain and simple what we have to do, if we win our games then we know we will reach our target."
One of the main factors behind Arsenal's 100 per cent record since returning from the summer break has been the form of Danielle Carter. The forward is Arsenal’s joint leading scorer alongside Jordan Nobbs with eight in all competitions this season. But her performances have come as no surprise to Yankey.
“We’ve seen for a long time that she has great strength, power and speed. She holds the ball up well, brings people into the game and is finishing off her chances superbly at the moment. She’s the most gifted centre forward we have with the formation we play.
“She’s had to wait for her chance but she has built up a lot of confidence since coming back from winning the World University Games with Team GB. She believes in herself and has the self-confidence that maybe she didn’t have in previous seasons.”
Carter, Yankey and company will have to be on top form against Lincoln. Despite being second bottom in the table, they boast the joint best defensive record in the league having conceded just 14 goals in 11 games.
“I’m not surprised,” said Yankey. “They’ve got the two England centre halves and goalkeeper. Karen Bardsley is a massive presence in goal and then they have Casey Stoney and Sophie Bradley who are used to each other and are difficult to break down.
“Our forwards need to show a lot of movement against them, if we are sluggish we will make it easy for them. But with the pace we’ve got up front we know we can break down any back line.”
Yankey also emphasised the importance of utilising the squad as the league campaign reaches its climax.
“We’ve got strength in depth attacking-wise and we’ve got a lot of talented youngsters on the bench who would get into any other team’s starting line-up.
“It’s good to have competition for places because it forces you to give 100 per cent in training because you know if it’s not your day on the pitch, then someone can come on for you and have a really good day.
“We’re in it for the long haul and fingers cross we can turn this good season into a great one.”
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