Arsenal Ladies can add yet another trophy to their collection on Sunday afternoon, as they contest the FA Women’s Cup Final against Bristol Academy at Doncaster Rovers’ Keepmoat Stadium.
There is a relentlessness about Arsenal Ladies’ accumulation of silverware – they are like the Bayern Munich of the women’s game in England – and a frustration at recent failures which drives them on.
If Arsenal win tomorrow – and they are favourites – it will be their sixth FA Cup in eight years. But for a club where success is the norm, every failure drives them on. Last year Arsenal surprisingly lost their semi-final 2-0 to Chelsea, who went on to lose the final to Birmingham City on penalties. This year, Arsenal are desperate to make amends.
“The FA Cup is huge for us,” Arsenal goalkeeper Emma Byrne told The Independent. “We were absolutely devastated not to get into the final last year and it left a bit of a scar. It is a bit of a driving force for us at the minute. We are determined to win. We believe we should have that cup in our cabinet.”
The mentality at Arsenal is for success on all fronts and even this season has not been perfect. They were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by Wolfsburg, who went on to beat Olympique Lyonnais in the final at Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.
That defeat still hurts too. “The Champions League is a completely different level from what we play domestically,” Byrne said earlier this week. “It was very disappointing. That was a great chance for us, and going to the final to watch will be a bit of a sting. It could have been us but we didn’t perform well, the other team were better and we can’t do anything about that.”
But this Arsenal squad has experience, of Champions League games and of course the Olympics, which their rivals just cannot match. Byrne is a veteran, with nine Premier League titles and seven FA Cups to her name, and believes the squad’s big-game mentality could see them through.
“The occasion can get to teams. This is where we have the advantage. We are used to this limelight.” Arsenal beat Bristol in the final two years ago. “It affected them a little bit back then and they didn’t perform as well as they might have done. We are ready for it.”
Tickets to the game will be available from the gate at £10 adults, £5 concessions. The game will be live on BBC2.