Liverpool Ladies boss Matt Beard targets second Arsenal scalp

By Tony LeightonWomen's football reporter
Matt Beard
Matt Beard

Liverpool boss Matt Beard is aiming to complete a big personal double in the FA Women's Cup semi-final with Arsenal.

As Chelsea manager, Beard masterminded a shock semi-final victory over the Gunners last year.

They lost to Birmingham in the final but that defeat is added motivation for Beard as he looks to take the Reds to a first final since 1996.

"We've been working hard. Hopefully the game plan will work as well as the one we had at Chelsea last year," he said.

"A couple of weeks before that semi we'd gone to the Emirates for a league match and got well beaten by Arsenal, and I admit I got the game plan wrong.

"But we learned from that and got it right in the cup semi. Unfortunately we lost in the final, so now I want another chance for a team of mine to lift the trophy."

If Liverpool are to give themselves that chance they must overcome an Arsenal team still hurting from their Champions League semi-final exit.

The Gunners, who are 11-times FA Cup winners and perennial favourites, went out of Europe last Sunday, going down 2-1 in the second against German team Wolfsburg to suffer a 4-1 aggregate defeat.

But goalkeeper Emma Byrne, who has seven FA Cup winners' medals to her name with Arsenal, has no thoughts of another exit at Anfield on Friday night.

"It was obviously disappointing to go out of the Champions League but we've quickly regrouped and we're now totally focused on the FA Cup," Byrne said.

"We couldn't believe it when we lost last year's semi-final and this time we are absolutely determined to go through.

"We've picked up the trophy so many times that we feel it belongs to us. We feel lost without it - and we want it back.

"We've got a very tough semi though, we know that, but we're really looking forward to playing at Anfield and hopefully the game will fit the occasion."

It is playing the game, not the occasion, that Beard will stress to his team before they step out at the world-famous stadium.

Beard added: "When I took Chelsea to the Emirates last season our players were overawed and that really cost us.

"So I took the Liverpool girls on the Anfield tour a couple of weeks ago to let them see the dressing rooms and have a stroll on the pitch.

"They know the surroundings now, they won't be fazed, and we're all set for a tremendous occasion that will hopefully end with us in the cup final."

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