Given the task of facing off against one their fellow best teams in the country twice in five days, first in the Conti Cup semi-final then in a crunch WSL match that could have a definite say in the title (and European berth) race. Arsenal had their work cut out for them – as did Manchester City – and with one win under their belts (and a league cup final appearance secured) we spoke to Leah Williamson about recovering from their loss to Chelsea, and the brace of matches against Man City.
WF: It’s historically a tight game when you play City, but you were cruising at half time and then gave away a cheap one, what’s your assessment of the match?
LW: “I thought we were a bit below our level in the first half and I don’t think they were their best either, then after the break, we just had to control the game and see it out and I think that’s what we did. Gutted to concede on a set piece, you know, in a game like that, that’s not how you want to concede. I thought it was a good game all around: another final and cup games can throw all sorts of things at you, so getting the job done was the most important thing.”
WF: The goal seemed to jerk Arsenal back to life, rather than giving City a better footing but even so, the last minutes of the game seemed to be ticking by rather slowly, were there any nerves out there, just about getting over the line at the end?
LW: “I actually didn’t feel that nervous which is maybe a good sign and maybe shows that we’re in control; talking to each other all the time, I think that’s something we’ve improved on, definitely West Ham and again against City. I wasn’t that nervous, but I can appreciate everyone on the side thinking it’s a little more frantic.”
WF: Now you’re in yet another cup final, and it is a cup that Arsenal have really made their own over the years, does that make it easier – or bring more pressure – knowing that history?
LW: “I think when you have a good history – that’s why we wanted to get back on top last year and win the league – when you have so long away from a cup, it gets hard and harder to win so to keep getting to finals is the most important thing. – Well, it’s important but then winning it is the most important thing; we need to bring that trophy home so we’re looking for another win.”
WF: Bit of a strange situation to have to play the same team twice in two different competitions (and home and away!) within a week, without giving anything away, was there talk of how you were going to approach both and what would be different or the same?
LW: “Joe is very… because he’s quite a relaxed manager, to keep us relaxed in the first match we couldn’t think about the weekend, so we were just given the plan for one match.”
WF: It was quite jarring to see the team play so poorly against Chelsea, obviously they’re a very good team but was it hard to get over the loss?
LW: “I actually watched a really cool video from an NFL team and the captain was delivering a speech, the main message was that, bad things happen in life and that’s life. A football game when you lose is always an opportunity to learn, and the best of what I’ve ever been involved in has come off the back of a loss… so yeah, good kick up the bum, maybe it was what we needed. Obviously, it’s not good to lose the points, I get that, but to go onto great things you have to go through those times.”
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