West Ham United women’s captain Gilly Flaherty is optimistic that the side can bring their end of 2018 form into Sunday’s Women’s Super League clash with Arsenal.
After a short break over the festive period, the Irons will return to competitive action this weekend with a first match of 2019, welcoming league leaders Arsenal to Rush Green Stadium.
Matt Beard’s side won their last four games of 2018, scoring ten goals while keeping four clean-sheets, and Flaherty knows the team has the quality to continue that run against the Gunners.
We had a lot of momentum at the end of last year. We know Arsenal are a top, top side but we’re ready for the test they will offer.
“We had a lot of momentum at the end of last year,” Flaherty told whufc.com. “But I think the break came at the right time for us. Getting those four wins was excellent and we’re ready to go again now.
“We know Arsenal are a top, top side. In terms of their squad and their depth, they are incredible, but we’re ready for the test they will offer.”
It was in West Ham’s second game of the WSL season that the Hammers came close to upsetting Arsenal away, with two goals from Kate Longhurst putting the side 2-1 up at Boreham Wood.
Although Arsenal would eventually win the game 4-3, the match remains the only time this season that the north London side have conceded three times, and Flaherty says she and her teammates will take heart from that game going into Sunday’s match.
She continued: “I think we gave Arsenal one of their toughest games of the season so far when we played them in September. We scored three goals and I think we’ve improved a lot since that day. If we played that exact game out now, with perhaps just a bit of the experience or mentality we’ve got right now, I have no doubt we’d have got the three points that day.
“We let ourselves down a little bit from set-pieces that day but we know we can threaten them. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves, and we have a really strong mentality too.”
Sunday’s match will be the first time that West Ham have played in front of their home fans at Rush Green Stadium since the end of November, and Flaherty is eager to give the Claret and Blue supporters three points to kick-start the new year.
“It’s great to get back in front of our home fans,” she added. “We know how important they are to us and to us getting results.
“We know they will get behind us, push us to fight hard, and hopefully we can give them the best start to 2019 with a win.”