Liverpool have the last laugh as they pip Arsenal at the death

Gunners Fair is back after a break and there is good
news and not so good news. While the Arsenal Ladies did manage to close their
2013 Women’s Super League campaign with a win, they could not prevent Liverpool
Ladies from winning the League in the first year of their club.

congratulations to Matt Beard and the team for a fine season that saw them
finish with 36 points overall, five points above Bristol Academy whom they beat
2-0 on the final day. They managed 12 wins and two losses, scoring 46 (the
highest in the league this season) and conceding 19 (second lowest).

On the other
hand, third place Arsenal Ladies lost only once (incidentally to Liverpool on
the opening day of the season) but drew three when they failed to score and
find that cutting edge – dropped points that cost them their third WSL title in
a row, even after strongly featuring in the title race for better part of the
season (Fielding unregistered player, Katie Chapman cost them a further three
points). They scored 31 (2nd highest after Liverpool) and conceded
only 11 (the lowest in the 2013 WSL).

In the final
game of the season, they beat the Everton Ladies 2-1
in a difficult away tie at the Arriva Stadium. Toni Duggan gave the hosts the
lead in the 34th minute and going into half-time, but Ellen White
equalised in the 61st minute and Rachel Yankey provided Arsenal’s
winner in the 81st minute. Shelley Kerr and the team will be
disappointed for lost chances and a failure to capitalise during the moments
they were in the driving seat for the season. But it’s too early to say
anything conclusive about the continuation of Arsenal’s dominance in top-flight
English women’s football. The club has always focused on continuous development
and will be sure to take this as a challenge to strive for even better
standards. As Arsenal keeper Emma Byrne is quick to point out, the girls are
aiming to return stronger to challenge Liverpool in the next season of the WSL.

Liverpool Ladies
are the proud new owners of the league winner’s title and our run of nine
consecutive years at the top is finally over. I have to hand it to Liverpool;
they played some lovely football and deservedly borrowed our silverware for the
year … ultimately our season came down to our performance on the pitch – we can
only look at ourselves for sometimes lacking the killer instinct necessary this

Liverpool remain
the first team in a decade to deny Arsenal a league title and that can only be
good news for the increasing competitiveness of women’s football which has seen
more investment and improvement this season; a trend that looks to continue
with Manchester City joining the top flight next season in place of Doncaster

“It’s been
tough, but it could be even harder next year – Arsenal will strengthen and
Manchester City joining the league means there will be more money coming in.”
(Liverpool’s manager Matt Beard)

There is even
recent talk of Manchester
United possibly re-launching a women’s side
with current men’s manager David Moyes offering his full support and backing.
The Scotsman has always been a vocal and passionate supporter of the women’s
game and his daughter Lauren plays for Preston North End.

Vic Akers
however cautions against putting too much faith into revenue and finances, but
promises that Arsenal will continue to strengthen their squad and facilities in
preparation for next season’s WSL.

“We will have an
improved group next year, but we can only go so far in terms of finance. We’re
not in the Manchester City situation. With respect, they landed in the top
flight through having loads of money.”

Back to the
football action then, Arsenal still have much left to play for. Following the FA
Cup victory back in May, the Ladies have a chance to add the Continental
to their trophy cabinet when they play
Lincoln Ladies (a team they have been unable to beat in any competition this
season following a string of draws) tomorrow night. It is a 7.30 pm kick-off
and the match will be televised on BT Sport so make sure all of you cheer them
on. In her article in The Standard, Byrne also reiterates the importance of
bouncing back from the WSL disappointment as well as proving that women’s
football has been subject to increasing standards of play.

Ladies football
is still being scrutinized and we are constantly fighting to raise the profile
of the sport – the best way to win people over is to show how high the standard
is now, on the pitch.

The Gunners Town
team would like to wish Kerr and the team all the best for a successful outing tomorrow
and for next week when they begin their Champions League campaign against Kairan.
Their third-place finish in the WSL means that the competition gains even more
importance. If the Gunners want to feature in the CL next season they have to
win the trophy in a few months time.

Until next week!
Hopefully the boys can hold onto their top of the table position going into the
international break, and continue their fine run of form. Before I leave you, here’s
a very interesting interview
with Arsenal’s Kelly Smith in The Huffington Post, and you should also check
out Alex
Scott’s video diaries
on the FAWSL YouTube
channel for an insider’s take on the game, the club and the England team.

As I’d mentioned
in my last article, Gunners Fair readers have a Continental Cup final special
to look forward to next Thursday from guest writer, Emmet McEvoy
who has previously written for us, so watch out for that.

Clear Eyes. Full
Hearts. Can’t Lose.

Anushree Nande

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