Arsenal Ladies v Glasgow City
8 November ~ Arsenal Ladies entered 2013 looking to establish themselves as one of the best teams in Europe. Their win against Turbine Potsdam in the last 16 of the Champions League was their first against German opposition but as in 2012, they lost to another team from the same country in the semi-final, this time eventual winners Wolfsburg. For the first time since 2003 Arsenal Ladies were not domestic champions this season. In fact their third place (behind Liverpool and Bristol Academy) means they missed out on Champions League qualification.
Arsenal will only be in the 2014-15 competition if they win the current one. This has given added importance to their last-16 tie against Glasgow City. The first leg takes place at The Hive in Barnet tomorrow (kick off 1pm) with the return at Petershill on Wednesday evening.
Glasgow’s dominance of the Scottish game has been even more complete than Arsenal’s in England. They were champions again in 2013, dropping only two points all season. In the five seasons since the women’s domestic season moved to the summer in 2009, Glasgow have won 92 out of 95 league games, losing only once. They too have recent experience of playing Turbine Potsdam, meeting the Germans at this stage two years ago.
Theirs was a less happy experience than Arsenal’s as they lost 17-0 on aggregate. It did however provide an opportunity for striker Lisa Evans to move to Potsdam while team-mate Emma Mitchell also went to Germany to play for SGS Essen. While Evans’s career at Potsdam continues to flourish, Mitchell soon returned to Britain and will play for Arsenal on Saturday against her former club. She will not be the only Scot in the Gunners team as midfielder Kim Little has been a key player for Arsenal for the last five years.
The presence of the best players from Scotland in Europe’s top club sides is evidence of the strength of the Scottish club game. Meanwhile the national team, having missed out on the European Championship after a narrow play-off defeat against Spain, are well placed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup and is now arguably stronger than England. Many Scots will be hoping that the national club champions can also prove to be the better team. Peter Bateman