Sun 15.Apr 2012 07:19 Albert Sigurdsson,
CL: Arsenal in shape to challenge Frankfurt
Laura Harvey
"Every team at this stage in Europe has bigger finances and backing than us," admits Arsenal LFC's Laura Harvey, who remains hopeful ahead of their semi-final with 1. FFC Frankfurt.

Arsenal LFC may be underdogs for their UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final with 1. FFC Frankfurt but Gunners manager Laura Harvey believes her side are in a far stronger position than at the same stage last year.

Twelve months ago Arsenal went down 5-2 on aggregate in the last four to eventual champions Olympique Lyonnais. On Sunday they welcome three-time winners Frankfurt to Meadow Park having never got past a German side in their ten European campaigns. However, having had a stable side in recent years, bolstered by winter arrivals Alex Scott and Gemma Davison – both veterans of the 2007 UEFA Women's Cup victory – Harvey is hopeful.

"Last year we did exceptionally well to get to the semi-final but were beaten by a better team in Lyon," Harvey told "That group of players have 12 months more experience, add to that Gemma Davison, Alex Scott, [injured] Kelly Smith – the experience they bring, they've got European Cup medals round their necks, we feel we are in a much better place this time round. The squad's definitely stronger, we've got to go and show that on Sunday."

Along with Smith, yet to play since her return to the Gunners, defender Faye White and the versatile Jennifer Beattie are sidelined. Harvey knows they cannot match the resources of Frankfurt. "Every team at this stage in Europe has bigger finances and backing than us," she said. "That's something we've had to come to terms with for a long time. The year we won it we had one of the smallest budgets."

But there is hope – Frankfurt have lost all three of their away legs in this season's competition and Arsenal are always strong at their tight Borehamwood home. "It's been well documented that Frankfurt's away form in this year's competition hasn't been good but they've always managed to turn it around when they've gone back to Frankfurt," Harvey said. "Our results at Borehamwood are always important to us, we love playing there. It's a bit of a fortress for us and we want to keep it that way."

The visitors, who beat FCR 2001 Duisburg on penalties last Sunday to reach the German Cup final, lost Dzsenifer Marozsán to an ankle injury in that match. However, Desirée Schumann, deputising in goal for the injured Nadine Angerer, excelled in the shoot-out and on Wednesday, Frankfurt secured a 4-1 home league win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen to move up to second, though forward Fatmire Bajramaj was then ruled out for both legs of the Arsenal tie after a thigh muscle tear.

"It was our goal to win in the league as well after the last few intense weeks and to stay in the race for a place in the Champions League," coach Sven Kahlert said. "We are in the important stages of all three competitions. The girls hardly have time to rest for a second, but that's exactly the way we want it to be, we are looking forward to the many challenges ahead."

(Taken from
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