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Football - 05. May 2008.

Smith expects testing Final

By Stuart Mawhinney. Sunday, 04 May 2008.

Kelly Smith says that Arsenal will not underestimate their opponents as they look to lift The FA Women's Cup for a third successive season.

Despite beating Leeds United 5-0 in The Final two years ago, Smith believes that it will be a different game entirely when they take to the field today.


"I think they were a little naive in the way the set up for the game that day," Smith told TheFA.com. "It was their first Final and there was a big crowd but I think they will have learned from that and progressed as a club.

"We then played them in the Premier League Cup Final last season and it was end-to-end stuff and a good competitive match, they defended well but we were lucky enough to get the winner late on.

"We're expecting a similar game to that one, the adrenalin will be flowing and everyone will be pumped up for the big occasion."

Leeds have shown a lot of promise this season, and Smith believes that the biggest stage could provide them with an incentive to show people what they can do.

"They have a lot of young players who are finding their feet and will want to prove their point on the big stage. The game is live in TV, the England Head Coach Hope Powell will be there, so it's a great chance for them to impress.

"We have some older players with a bit more experience, and that may count in our favour. We played here last season in front of a big crowd as well.

"But it's a one-off game and anything can happen in a Cup match. We're really looking forward to it and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since we beat Lincoln in the Semi-Final."

Looking back on last season's Final, Smith is filled with happy memories from the day that saw Arsenal clinch the quadruple.

Although Charlton opened the scoring through Katie Holtham, who will be involved for Leeds, Smith and Jayne Ludlow both got two goals apiece to ensure Arsenal secured The Cup.

"It was an amazing day for the club and everybody involved.

"It wasn't just for the squad of players, it was about the backroom staff and the people who don't always get the credit they deserve.

"To win all four major trophies in the 20th anniversary year for the club was an incredible feeling.

"I think The FA Cup is such a prestigious competition, the same for the women's game as it is for the men's. It's the Cup everyone wants to get their hands on.

"It's such a big occasion, from the moment you go to bed you're thinking about it and preparing for it.

"There's a big buzz about the whole day, playing in front of all those people and thinking about lifting that trophy at the end of the game - that's what you play the game for."

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