Arsenal Ladies won the FA Cup for the 14th time yesterday, but the first ever time they have lifted the trophy at Wembley Stadium. A fulminating strike from Dan Carter in the 18th minute was enough to take the prize against a Chelsea side who had not lost a match since October.
Arseblog News caught up with an emotional match winner Dan Carter after the match, “Just to play in a Wembley Cup Final was a dream come true, to score and for us to win the game was just…ridiculous!” said Carter. The 22 year old normally plays on the right for the Gunners, but manager Pedro Losa moved her to the left and Carter’s 18th minute wonder strike proved to be pay dirt for his tactical decision.
“I was there so I could cut in and maybe get some shots off, I knew if I could get one during the game that I could test the keeper, I got one in and it did alright!” continued a jubilant Carter. “If Pedro tells me I’m playing left-back, goalkeeper, it doesn’t bother me as long as I’m on the pitch. On the right or the left, it’s the same role, the same job really.”
Carter said that she had family amongst the record 32,000 crowd, but one family member in particular came to mind when the ball curved over Chelsea keeper Lindahl and into the net, “My Granddad was here in the crowd but my Gran had to stay at home, she would have been too crazy! I can just imagine her going crazy at the TV screen when that goal went in.”
Carter thinks that Arsenal’s fast start took Chelsea by surprise and enabled them to get a stranglehold of the game, “They came to our home and beat us 2-0 a few weeks ago, we knew we had to start well, we started on the front foot. I was struggling and cramping up a lot in that last ten minutes, but we knew we had to give it one last push to defend the lead and win the cup.”
We also caught up with 37 year old Gunners legend Kelly Smith after the match. Smith, starting only her second match in 12 months, also thinks Arsenal’s imposing start was key to the win, “We were on it from the first minute, focussed, driven, we had a game plan and we nailed it, especially in that first 30 minutes. The confidence grew after that first twenty minutes.
“We lost to Chelsea and Manchester City in the league this season, the teams amongst us, but today we showed that we can turn up on big occasions and play really well and now we need to take that confidence and that performance into the league.”
Arsenal were certainly more direct than usual against Chelsea and Smith confirmed that this was all part of the game plan, “It’s a bigger pitch so we knew we had to stretch it, we put Dan on the left to whip balls in and get shots in, we put Oshoala on the right to expose her pace. I haven’t played much this year, but Pedro wanted me to hold the ball up and bring the wide players into play.”
Smith also admitted that the achievement is all the sweeter because she suspected that a bad ankle injury, obtained last May, might have ended her career, “I didn’t think I would get to play in a game like this again, I didn’t think it would happen. I was questioning whether that injury was it for me. But I have come back from lots of injuries before and that gave me the confidence that I could come back again.”
Smith downplayed her contribution in the final, “I don’t think I played amazingly well, I think I did my job.” Carter was rather more effusive of the veteran’s role, “When Kelly is on the pitch, we all feel a foot taller,” she beamed, “Training with her every day is enough, but we have extra confidence when she is on the pitch.”