Leah Williamson says Arsenal are keen to add a ruthless streak to their attacking play for the upcoming WSL Spring Series.
The Gunners won the Women’s FA Cup last season, beating Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley.
But they could only manage a third-place finish in the league behind champions Manchester City and runners-up Chelsea.
Versatile midfielder/defender Williamson told Elephant Sport: “We have learned that we need to be more clinical, and we need a team of girls all heading in the same direction with the same will to win, which I believe we have.”
The England under-23 international added: “We want to retain our FA Cup title, win the Spring Series, and we want to best prepare ourselves for the winter league in September to be back in contention for Champions League places.”
When the FA Women’s Super League was launched in 2011 it was as a summer competition, but it is now being synchronised with the men’s game.
“I want to prove that I am ready now, despite my [young] age and previous injuries”
To prepare for this, teams in WSL 1 will play in a Spring Series, with nine rounds of matches to be played from April to June.
Williamson, who has been at Arsenal since the age of nine, spent most of last season on the sidelines with an injury.
But the 19-year-old is currently fighting fit and eager to return to action.
“I want to stay fit and healthy to be in the starting 11 for Arsenal and then hopefully the football will take care of itself,” said the Arsenal No.6.
“I want to prove that I am ready now, despite my [young] age and previous injuries.”
Arsenal will kick off the Spring Series on April 23rd at home against Notts County Ladies FC.
Brighton and Hove Albion Women’s forward Bronwen Thomas is looking to continue to make her “chances count” for club and country.
The Seagulls hosted their opening home Women’s Super League game on Sunday at Culver Road, and it was 16-year-old Thomas, Wales’s young player of the year, who scored their only goal.
Albion Women drew 1-1 with Oxford United in the competition’s Spring Series format, to make it two draws in their opening two games for George Parris’s side following an identical result against London Bees in their opener.
Thomas found a way through the Oxford back line on 31 minutes and her deflected shot looped over goalkeeper Demi Lambourne.
After the game she said: “It’s really nice obviously to start, but to get the first goal is great. It’s not just about me but it’s the whole team performance. The goal took a deflection and hung in the air for a while, but it was great to get the goal.
“I’m going to work hard in training and when I get my chance I want to make it count wherever I can”
“Oxford posed a threat, they were physical and in the second half our standards dropped a bit, but looking at us (Brighton), there’s definitely things to work on, and overall it’s a positive performance.
“We are a new group of girls, so it’s building on the positives and mending the negatives. Personally, I’m going to work hard in training and when I get my chance I want to make it count wherever I can.” added Thomas.
Interim Albion women’s manager Parris praised Thomas after the draw on Sunday: “It was a great goal, where we were sitting it took an eternity to hit the back of the net! She is an extremely promising player.”
Rapid raise to success
Just three seasons ago, Thomas was playing in the Sussex County Women & Girls Football League with Horsham Sparrows, captaining their under-14 team to Sussex Girls Challenge Cup success.
Since then, the young Brighton forward has been recognised as one of the game’s brightest talents and was crowned Wales’ young women’s player of the year in November 2016 at a ceremony which also saw awards given out to Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale and Wales men’s team coach Chris Coleman.
Thomas’s award capped off a remarkable year in which she already broken into the Albion Women’s senior team and netted a hat-trick as the Seagulls retained the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup in a 5-1 win over Crawley Wasps.
Praise from Albion chief executive
“We are incredibly proud of Bronwen, as a young player who has come through the club’s Regional Talent Centre”
Speaking last year, Albion chief executive Paul Barber led the congratulations, and said: “It has been an amazing year for Bronwen.
“She has broken into our first team, scored a hat-trick in the Sussex Senior Cup Final, been called up to the senior team by Wales, and now won this well-deserved award.
“We are incredibly proud of Bronwen, as a young player who has come through the club’s Regional Talent Centre, and in three short years made the step up to international football.”
On winning the award Thomas said “It came as a total surprise. I was so excited to have an invitation to attend the Wales awards evening with the meant that had done so well at the Euros and had no idea I was going to get an award!
“I had to go up and receive it in front of everyone and then be interviewed in front of them all. I will never forget the evening
“It means a lot, just playing for your country means a lot but to be picked as a young player of the year is amazing, and it is a great honour.
“It won’t do it any harm (to my future career) but I completely believe ‘you are as good as your last game’ is the way to approach things.”
“She is an extremely promising player”
Despite her remarkable rise, the teenager remains grounded. “I’ve got to keep working really hard and improving as a player to keep getting the opportunities I am at the moment with Brighton and Wales,” she says.
Thomas is set to link-up with her fellow Welsh internationals this week as the national team travel to the Cyprus Women’s Cup tournament. The women’s side will face Hungary, Czech Republic and Israel in Group C.
She will not be the only player away from Brighton on international duty. “The team (Brighton) will get back on the training pitch but with the nature of the set up, we have six ladies off on international camps,” said Parris. “This is great for them and the club, but for us back here, we will keep on working”.
Albion Women were meant to be at home to Doncaster Rovers Belles this coming Sunday, but because of the international call-ups, Brighton’s request to postpone the game was accepted.
The other players absent on national duty are Alessia Russo (England under-19s), Jenna Legg (England under-23s), Laura Rafferty (Northern Ireland), Sophie Perry and Emma Byrne (both Republic of Ireland).
The postponed match means the Seagulls’ next game is a trip to Millwall Lionesses on Sunday 12th March.