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Football - 21. April 2011.

FA WSL Preview: Ellen White hopes for positive Arsenal reaction

Arsenal Ladies play their first home game in the FA WSL against Bristol Academy tonight, while Lincoln travel to Chelsea as both sides look to get their first points of the season.

By David Brenchley

Arsenal Ladies v Bristol Academy Women. 19:45, Borehamwood FC, WD6 5AL

Ellen White is hoping her Arsenal side can bounce back from the disappointment of losing out on a Champions League final with a win over the FA WSL's bottom side Bristol Academy.

The Gunners' fantastic European run came to an end on Saturday as they went down 5-2 to Lyon on aggregate, but White was pleased with the character they showed to pull two goals back in the tie.

"I think we showed a lot of pride and character in the second half," the striker told WSR. "A lot of teams might have crumbled [at 5-0 down] but we stuck together, got a couple of goals and showed what we are about.

"It is disappointing missing out on a Champions League final but we have a lot to look forward to. Now we have to re-group and move onto the next game."

Arsenal got off to a winning start in their domestic campaign thanks to a Gilly Flaherty goal away to Chelsea and White is looking and another three points and to keep pace with early leaders Birmingham.

"It was great to get the first game underway because it has been a long pre-season and hopefully we can continue winning and getting points on the board," she added.

"There is a lot more to come from us and hopefully we can push on against Bristol and get another three points."

Meanwhile, Bristol will be missing two key players as Jess Fishlock and Ann-Marie Heatherson picked up knocks in Sunday's FA Cup semi final victory over Liverpool.

After the euphoria of qualifying for next season's Champions League, manager Mark Sampson is hoping his side can now turn their attentions to yet another massive task.

"Full focus will need to be on Arsenal," he told bristolacademyfc.fawsl.com. "Sunday was a great day for the club and a fantastic performance from the players but we are ambitious.

"We want more days like Sunday and for that to happen we need to perform in the big matches and you can't get any bigger than Arsenal away.

"The team we select Thursday will be prepared and fully motivated to execute the game plan we need to get a result at Arsenal."

Chelsea Ladies v Lincoln Ladies. 19:45, Tooting and Mitcham FC, SM4 6BF

Casey Stoney returns to her former club with Lincoln tonight and manager Rod Wilson knows Chelsea's younger players will be determined to prove she made the wrong decision this summer.

Both teams lost their curtain-raisers by the odd goal and Lady Imps boss Wilson believes the game will take on an added significance for the hosts due to the return of Stoney.

"That is going to make the game a more feisty affair," he told the Lincolnshire Echo. "Casey was a big noise around the club at Chelsea and was player-manager there for a while.

"She left to come to Lincoln because we train more and she has left some of the younger players there. They will be determined to prove to her that she made the wrong choice to come to Lincoln."

Despite both teams losing last week, Wilson believes they will be happy with their performances and there will not be many changes to Lincoln's startig line up - although Jess Clarke could be sidelined.

He watched Chelsea's match against Arsenal and, while admitting Chelsea were unfortunate to come away with nothing, there is some trepidation regarding the Tooting and Mitcham pitch.

"Chelsea's pitch is atrocious, very poor. We try to play football and we managed that at Sincil Bank without getting the goals we desired," he added.

"But I am not going to make wholesale changes to the personnel as I thought the performance against Doncaster was good.

"It is going to be a tough test though. Chelsea lost 1-0 in their opening game to Arsenal but they were happy with their performance and probably had the best chance of the game."


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