Silver days for Highbury's other half

Pete Davies finds Arsenal Ladies confident of winning their own FA Cup tomorrow

WHILE the nation grows increasingly attached to the unfamiliar spectacle of Arsene Wenger's expansive and inventive Arsenal, the Gunners' distaff side have been playing that way for years.

Arsenal Ladies' manager, Vik Akers, may risk comparison with the sterner style of the George Graham era when he says his team's success is founded on a solid defence - but he also says: "The women's game isn't about smashing the ball all around the park. We like to get it down, and we like to play."

That approach has won them three league titles and two FA Cups in the past five years, and Highbury's first silverware this season when they won the women's League Cup on penalties against their close rivals Croydon. That rivalry is renewed tomorrow afternoon, live on Sky at 3pm when the clubs meet at Millwall in the Women's FA Cup final.

Akers expects another nail-biter. Arsenal and Croydon have been inseparable in open play this term; the previous final finished 0-0 after extra time, while their league meetings finished 2-2 and 3-3. The latter result, last Thursday night at Potters Bar, extinguished Arsenal's faint mathematical hopes of the league championship; Everton Ladies collect that honour, in contrast to the plight of Goodison's men. But with the women's game in its usual end-of-season chaos, Akers had anyway abandoned hope that his team could stage a late league charge to match Wenger's men.

Playing Croydon again tomorrow, Arsenal then have the London County Cup final on Wednesday, and their last league games - against Bradford and Doncaster - on Friday and Sunday. It is, said Akers, "Absolutely crazy. How can you expect amateurs to do that? All you're doing is giving them an opportunity to get injured. When there's only 18 league games, you'd think it could be better organised."

Croydon's run-in isn't much better; in other regards, however, the FA's commitment to the women's game looks much stronger these days. Improving publicity drew 2,500 to last season's final at Upton Park, where Millwall beat Wembley 1-0; more recently, over 5,000 watched England's tight 1- 0 loss to Germany in a World Cup qualifier.

Both tomorrow's finalists have been well represented in recent England squads; indeed, all bar one of Arsenal's likely starters have senior caps. One to watch is Faye White, a tall centre-half likened for her presence and composure to the iconic Tony Adams; 20 years old, White is a fitness instructor who opened her international account against Italy last month with (what else?) a header from a corner.

Whether Arsenal can find a way past Hope Powell's equally capable Croydon remains to be seen but, whatever the outcome, Highbury is buzzing and Akers said his women feel fully part of that. "We'll be guests when the men play at Wembley, and that's lovely."

After all, an FA Cup final is special for players of either gender - and Arsenal this season have a chance to win both of them.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower