I was invited to the FA WSL launch last week. I was able to meet and interview players from Arsenal Ladies, Chelsea Ladies, Notts County Ladies, asked them about the upcoming 2015 season. The FA WSL, which is exclusively live on BT Sport for a second successive season promised to be as exciting as last season with many teams signing quality players during the winter break.
The FA WSL season kicks off on tonight with defending Champions taking on Sunderland in a game that will be broadcast live on BT Sport, kick-off at 7.45 pm
Siobhan Chamberlain ( goalkeeper for Arsenal Ladies)
What are the Arsenal’s target this year ? Do you think the team can achieve champions league qualification as it has been 2 years now without champions league ?
Everyone wants to play in the Champions League that is definitely a major target for the side. We know that we can improve on last season at fourth . Fourth position is not good enough for Arsenal, we know hat we have got a squad that is capable of succeeding and doing really well . We need to make sure we compete week-in week-out to be in the best position at the end of the season.
What are your individual targets for the season ? (as she did not get many games 6 overall with Emma Byrne being the number 1 goalkeeper )
Obviously everyone wants to play in every game and I think it is good that there is a lot of competition for every position . It is a very strong squad. I want to play more than I did last year but that’s out of my control. I just need to control what I can go out there train hard, work as hard as possible and I if do get an opportunity take it.
Carly Telford ( goalkeeper for Notts County Ladies)
Last year you were the number one team in the defensive statistics. Should we expect the same thing this year ?
I would expect so, we demand a high standard defensively. I think we lost maybe a key player in Rachel Corsie ( who has moved to NWSL side Seattle reign ). She was strong for us, captained the side when Sophie Bradley was injured. Obviously we are missing Sophie still, we have strengthened with Laura Bassett, we have also got Fern Whelan who can slot in there now she is fit and ready to go. I think we strengthened if anything squad wise in defense. And hopefully now we are going to defend as well as last year and also score more goals to turn draws into wins.
Last year you were in the relegation battle for a while. You have new players in attack, do you think you will be able to play with less emphasis on defense this season ?
We started the season well last year, we dipped a lot in the middle. We lost Ellen White early, Jess Clarke was on her own most of the time and was scoring a lot of goals ( she scored 50% of Notts County league goals overall). She cannot do everything, we were asking a lot from her. She did her best and got us out of some deep holes. Now we have got Ellen back, Jess Clarke, Jess Siggsworth who just signed. We also have Rachel Williams and Fiona O’Sullivan that we signed mid-season last year. Offensively we are quite strong. And if we can keep watertight at the back it is a good combination.
So is it just a question of getting the right balance between attacking and defending this year ?
Definitely, last year we knew we were low on attacking players, we knew it was going to be hard to score goals. We had to make sure we defend our best and if we managed to nick goals and get draws it was a bonus for us.
What are the expectations for the team this year ? Is it qualifying for the champions league or the title or finishing top 3?
We would like to build on last year. We finished mid table, we got two semi-finals. We want to reach a final, it would be lovely to get some silverware. FA Cup, Continental Cup or winning the league and from there we would like to into champions league. We were not far off in the end, 8 points with the deduction from the Bristol, we could have been ended right amongst it. I do not think we were far off and with the players we have signed we will end up competing.
Marie Hourihan (goalkeeper for Chelsea Ladies)
How do you manage to juggle your everyday accounting work and playing football at the same ?
Chelsea have gone fully professional so all of our 20 players are in everyday. For me personally, it is just a case of seeing with the club what is the schedule training wise and speak to my employer who is pretty flexible and say “look these are the hours where I will be free”. Basically working around that, I am quite lucky that I do a lot of work remotely.
Do Chelsea Ladies train in the morning or in the evening ?
We train during the day, always during the day ( unlike other teams). Usually typically in the morning and if the afternoon, we will have a gym session. We also have recovery days at least once a week when I can fit my accounting work. By the end of the week, you are basically knackered.
The manager has brought foreign goalkeepers last season ( Endler) and this season ( Lindhal) how do you see that kind of competition ?
It is good, competition is good, it pushes you to improve. It brings different culture, different ways of playing. I am training with a different type of goalkeeper that I am used to. It broadens my horizon. This year, the new signing is the Swedish number one keeper, so you have to raise to your game to that level, if you want to compete to play. In every position, the competition is healthy, we have strength in depth and it bodes well for this year.
Are you going to try to win the title this year ?
After last year loosing on final day, we are all wounded from that. Our aim this year is to win some silverware for the club. The League is going to be very difficult of course, all the other sides have strengthened, every year it gets harder but we are hoping to be in that mix certainly.
Regarding the Champions League 2015/16, will you try to win it ?
September is a long time away, it is a great competition very different to what we are used to. The way Chelsea Football club is we want to win everything.
Does the manager ask you to go up on attacking corners ? ( Lindhal went up five time against Watford in pre-season and nearly scored with a header)
It was just a unique scenario, something the manager wanted to try during a game.