Arsenal Ladies: A Friendly Fan Guide

Getting to know the lovely ladies of North London.

As the UWCL tie with Glasgow City approaches, now's as good a time as ever to give everyone a bit more information on the Arsenal Ladies.

Before we get underway, allow me to preface this article. Positions are based off of the official Arsenal website.  The article does cover every player on Arsenal Ladies 2013-2014 roster, all 19 of them. That means this is a pretty lengthy article. I encourage you to stay strong and read the whole thing.

Let's start with our fearless leader, Shelley Kerr.

Kerr was hired as the head boss after Laura Harvey left and went to the Seattle Reign of the NWSL. This was her first FA WSL season on the job, but it's not her first experience with Champions League.  She was hired in time to coach the team for last year's matchup with Wolfsburg. While many people believe Kerr underachieved with Arsenal this year, placing 3rd in the league, FIFA politely disagrees and named Kerr to the shortlist for women's coach of the year.

Now, on to the players under the direction of Coach Kerr. Starting with the keeps and working to the forwards, here's your favorite women's squad.

Goalkeeper Emma Byrne puts the fight in fighting Irish and we love her for that. Byrne has been the first team keeper for Arsenal since 2000, so she's been around the block a few times for the Gunners. Not only is she a fantastic keeper, but she is also a coach in Arsenal's Ladies Academy spreading her knowledge to the youth of tomorrow.

One of those young guns (aren't puns fun?) is backup keeper Sophie Harris. Born in 1994, she's done much more than most of us have by age 19, having trained at the Arsenal Ladies Academy for the past four years before earning her spot on the first team.

Defense! Defense! First up we have the ever-wonderful Alex Scott. Forever a gunner, Scott signed on with Arsenal when she was 8, thus proving she is, in fact, better than you. While she did leave for Birmingham City and the Boston Breakers, Scott always returned home. She's also a staple on the England National Team with 101 caps, and she also featured for Team Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Putting the offense in defense is Stephanie Houghton. You will be hard pressed to find a defender that helps out the attack more than Houghton. Like Scott, she too was a member of Team Great Britain in the Olympics, and in those five matches she had three goals and, of course, played some stellar defense. Somehow she was left off the Ballon d'Or shortlist last year, and we're still bitter about it.

Up next, Gilly Flaherty. Flaherty contributes to this team's impressive youth core with sound 1v1 defense. Your fun trivia fact for Flaherty is that she scored the first goal in FA WSL history. Literally no one else can make that claim. You go, Gilly.

The final piece of Arsenal's defense is the Irish trio of Yvonne Tracey, Ciara Grant, and Niamh Fahey. Tracey has dealt with some injury issues over the years, but still possess excellent defensive ability. Grant is one of Arsenal's mainstays. Now in her 15th season, Grant recently retired from international competition for Ireland, but continues to truck on for Arsenal. Last, but certainly not least, Fahey was named Arsenal Ladies Player of the Year last season and can also play midfielder. Versatile.

In the midfield, we'll lead off with Jordan Nobbs. When playing with Sunderland in 2010, Nobbs won the FA Young Player of the Year award. After the FA WSL was formed and Sunderland's bid to join failed, Arsenal scooped up the young midfielder, and boy are we happy that happened.

Kim Little. Little cannon. Little wonder. Just stick little in front of a word and you have another Kim Little nickname. Fittingly enough, not only is her last name Little, but so is her stature. You would not know this based on her play. One of the most prolific midfielders in women's soccer, she had 17 goals through the first 17 games of last season.

The last of the midfielders that aren't new to the squad this year is Katie Chapman. After playing with the Chicago Red Stars in 2010, Chapman has been back with Arsenal ever since. A consistent starter with the first team, Chapman adds on to the offensive firepower of Arsenal's midfield.

The newcomers to this year's midfield are Emma Mitchell, Caroline Weir, and Bianca Bragg. Micthell and Weir both signed on this season and have solidified Arsenal's depth. While Mitchell is more defensive, Weir helps out the offensive side of the game. Not to brag about Bragg (puns strike again!), but she's another product of Arsenal's fantastic development system. Bragg joined the first team after spending several years in Arsenal's Center of Excellence.

At last we have arrived to the forwards. First is Rachel Yankey. One of the main leaders of this squad, Yankey is also a legend for the England National Team with 129 caps for her country, the most all time for England. Cool as a cucumber, Yankey is one of Arsenal's best players.

Gemma Davison is yet another gunner that has tried out other teams and always returned to the Arsenal. Davison has excellent finishing ability, as most great forwards do, and in her first 44 first team games scored 19 goals. She's played for five other teams besides Arsenal and has a great deal of experience that she brings to the squad.

Less experienced, but still just as great, is Danielle Carter. Carter has really hit her stride in recent UWCL play, and is tied with the aforementioned Kim Little for leading the team in goals, with five. Only 20 years old, we can expect a lot out of Carter in the year's to come.

We'll chalk up Ellen White as the prodigal daughter that has returned. After playing in the Arsenal Ladies academy from ages 8 to 16, White left and played at Chelsea Ladies and Leeds Carnegie, where she showed the women's soccer world that she was a scorer to be reckoned with. Since returning to Arsenal in 2010, White has continued to score goals, which helped her earn her first cap with the England National Team in the same year.

Last, but certainly not least, is Kelly Smith. Allow me to explain just how incredible Kelly Smith is by using an analogy. Kelly Smith is the Arsenal Ladies version of the men's Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, and Freddie Ljungberg all wrapped into one. She is THAT legendary. Ok so maybe I'm exaggerating just a tad, but thats unimportant. Recently Smith has been dealing with a great deal of injury issues, and, as much as I like to deny the possibility, is probably on the brink of retirement. However, its rumored she could be making her triumphant return in the round of 16.

Hopefully now you know a bit more about the ladies that will be taking the field against Glasgow City this Saturday. If not, then what exactly are you doing on this page?

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