There's an official hashtag and everything, Lianne Sanderson has re-signed with the Arsenal. The 26-year-old forward started her career with the Gunners way back in 1997, coming up through the youth program and playing her first official season with the senior squad when she was a mere 15 years old. The thing is, Sanderson is really good at soccer and really really good at scoring goals.
Sanderson would leave Arsenal in 2008, with stops at Chelsea and Philadelphia among others, and most recently Boston. She also played with Apollon Limassol on several brief stints into UWCL play. But not all who wander are lost. The prodigal child always returns. Ok, so that's a bit dramatic, but having Sanderson back is a massive step for Arsenal to find their way back into the UWCL and challenge for the FA WSL title.
Now, aside from the obvious draw of Arsenal, I'd wager this move mostly had to do with Sanderson's recent, and deserved, re-introduction to the England Women's National team. With the appointment of new head coach Mark Sampson, Sanderson was brought back into the fold. While Sanderson was a rising star for the English team when Hope Powell was in charge, there was a great amount of discord between the two, and Sanderson claimed she never wanted to be called back up as long as Powell was running the show. This lead to a three-year hiatus from the national team for the forward.
Exit Powell, enter Sanderson. And my goodness has it been a good thing for England. After their less than spectacular showing at last year's EUROs, they were one of the first EURO team's to qualify for the upcoming Women's World Cup next year. Sanderson has netted five goals this year for the English national team.
As I mentioned, the Women's World Cup is next year, and undoubtedly a big part of this move to London is because Sanderson wants to be able to train with the England squad and prep for the tourney. This, along with the actual tournament, means that Sanderson may not actually be able to play in that many games for Arsenal.
So, while the signing of Sanderson has a wonderful amount of potential success for Arsenal, I'm just not sure how much of it will come to fruition in a year filled with World Cup prep and World Cup play. Either way, Arsenal has now over the past few years returned Alex Scott, Kelly Smith, and Lianne Sanderson from the 2006-2007 UWCL winning squad, so that has to be a good thing.