Emma Byrne: Arsenal goalkeeper feels all WSL 1 teams are strong

By Tom GarryBBC Sport
Emma Byrne
Arsenal goalkeeper Emma Byrne has made 113 senior appearances for the Republic of Ireland

Arsenal goalkeeper Emma Byrne says every team in WSL 1 will provide tough opposition, as the Gunners prepare for their first league game of the season.

The two-time champions kick off their 2015 league campaign away to Notts County on Thursday.

"Any team in the top league is going to be a rival," said Byrne. "There won't be convincing wins anymore.

"It is not like four or five years ago. Every team is going to be a good team and we relish that challenge."

After consecutive league titles in the first two seasons of the WSL, Arsenal finished third in 2013 and fourth last year.

"Man City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Birmingham - they're all going to be chasing for the title like they were last season," Byrne told BBC Sport.

"We needed the long pre-season to gel. I feel like we've been in pre-season for about six months.

"We were really glad to get the season going against Millwall in the FA Cup."

Arsenal played their first competitive game of 2015 against the Lions on 22 March, and beat the WSL 2 side 7-0 at The Den.

"It was the perfect start for us," added winger Rachel Yankey. "We want to re-create that in the league.

"We'll look to push on and hopefully perform the same and get goals in the team."

Notts County began their league campaign with a 2-1 loss at home to Chelsea on Sunday.