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Arsenal's clash with Man City more important after Chelsea defeat, says captain Little

5:00 AM EDT 10/27/19
Kim Little Arsenal 2019
The Gunners' skipper is hopeful her side can put on a better performance in a huge clash at the top of the FA Women's Super League table

Arsenal captain Kim Little believes Sunday’s clash with fellow title-chasers Manchester City holds more significance after the Gunners’ disappointing defeat to Chelsea.

The trio are the teams to beat in the FA Women’s Super League again, with Arsenal’s defence of their title dealt an early setback by a 2-1 loss to the Blues two weeks ago .

But with wins in the UEFA Women’s Champions League and the Continental Cup since, Little believes her side have moved on and are in a good place ahead of City’s visit.

“We’ve had a couple of games since then - quite quickly after, actually - with our Champions League game, which I think was good for us,” the midfielder told Goal, her team beating Slavia Prague and Charlton Athletic in the week that followed.

“I think it gave us a different focus straight away and we could get over it really quickly with a win. 

“We’re obviously disappointed with our performance against [Chelsea]. Our possession and our movement wasn’t good enough, so we didn’t create good opportunities further up the pitch.

“But also, I think our press wasn’t right. We made it too easy at times for them to get down the sides and in behind our back line.

“We just weren’t quite right in attack and in defence and because you’re playing a team like Chelsea, full of great players, it highlights it even more.

“It wasn’t good enough, but we’ve got another big league game now against City and I think with our loss to [Chelsea] it makes it almost more important for us.”

After playing their last three games in seven days, Little is hopeful that some more rest will benefit Arsenal this weekend, too.

It’s the first time in five years that both the 29-year-old and the club have been back in the Women’s Champions League, so it’s an exciting time on both counts – even with manager Joe Montemurro  admitting that competing on the continent has tired his team.

“I think it’s always nice to get a full week of preparation leading into the game, especially games against great teams,” Little said.

“We’re playing against one of the best teams in the league. We’re very respectful of what they can do and their attributes.

“It has been nice to just have a normal week, with our specific days we’re in and off, but then, on the flip side of that, we all just want to be playing games. I think it’s nice to have the balance and have the best of both right now.

“I think we’re in a good place.”

Arsenal’s clash with their WSL rivals isn’t the only big game on Sunday, either.

Across the pond, the NWSL Championship final will take place later in the day – a game Little played in twice with Seattle Reign, now Reign FC, during a three-year spell.

“I watched the [Reign vs North Carolina Courage] semi-final because I obviously have friends who still play in Seattle,” Little said, her former team going on to lose 4-1 in extra time.

“There’s been a lot of changes, the coach has changed, but there’s still maybe four of five players who have been there since the start of the Reign, so I keep in touch with most of them.

“They were obviously disappointed with how the game went, but I think North Carolina deserved to win in the end.”

The Courage will face the Chicago Red Stars in Sunday’s final, the latter reaching the stage thanks to Sam Kerr’s strike in a 1-0 win over the Portland Thorns.

Kerr, who picked up her third successive NWSL Golden Boot this season, has been heavily linked with a move to Chelsea – a move Little would welcome.

“She played for Sky Blue when we played and she was always a threat, always in behind our defence. We were always very aware of her,” the Scotland international recalled.

“I think it’s great that players from the American league, which is a great league, are linked to Europe.

“You want the best players playing in your league.”