‘Exciting’ Arsenal can win trophies this season as Kim Little hails ‘leader’ Leah Williamson, and reflects on time with ‘impactful’ Megan Rapinoe

    The Women’s Super League kicks off this weekend with Arsenal handed a tricky start at home to Brighton.

    The Gunners are expected to be title contenders once again after finishing just a point behind last season’s champions Chelsea and have been boosted by the news that star striker Vivianne Miedema has extended her contract with the Gunners. 

    Arsenal are on the hunt for more silverware after a Chelsea and Man City grabbed all the available trophies last term

    getty

    Arsenal are on the hunt for more silverware after a Chelsea and Man City grabbed all the available trophies last term

    Little will be playing alongside Euro 2022 star Beth Mead again this season

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    Little will be playing alongside Euro 2022 star Beth Mead again this season

    And captain Kim Little believes Arsenal have the right man at the helm in Jonas Eidevall to help them deliver silverware this season. 

    “[Jonas Eidevall is] refreshing, he’s intense and he wants us to play at high speed, both in our defence and attack, but also then with our philosophy here at Arsenal of playing free flowing possession-based football. It’s a good combination. We’ll be exciting to watch this year,” she told talkSPORT. 

    “Our aim is to win and to win all the trophies.

    “We know it doesn’t just happen like that or with the click of a finger. We need to make sure that this year, we’re more consistent than we were last year and on the ball and we’re at our sharpest and best every game so that we can get to the point where at the end of the season, we are at the top.”

    Arsenal captain Little was a keen viewer of Euro 2022 and she teammate Leah Williamson’s leadership of England after the Lionesses won the European Championships this summer. 

    Williamson was chosen by Sarina Wiegman to be the Lionesses’ new captain before the tournament, replacing the long-serving Steph Houghton who missed out on the Euros due to a lack of match fitness.

    Williamson captained England to European Championship glory in the summer

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    Williamson captained England to European Championship glory in the summer

    Despite having big shoes to fill after Houghton had established herself as one of the most respected voices in the women’s game, Williamson more than stepped up to the plate with a series of impressive performances during the Euros. 

    She has also used her platform to speak eloquently about a host of issues in a bid to help drive change for women’s football in the long-run. 

    Little says she is proud of Williamson for her achievements this summer and believes the 25-year-old, alongside England teammates Beth Mead and Lotte Wubben-Moy, will have a huge impact on the Arsenal squad this season after their Euros success. 

    Little said: “They are all players going into their peak. They are at a point in their careers where winning that tournament at the Euros will have a great impact on them, but also what they can now bring to the club and our team coming back as winners. I think that will be great for us as a team to have that.

    “I obviously work with Leah day-in, day-out and she’s the vice-captain here at Arsenal, so I know her really well and know exactly what she’s capable of. When she’s given a responsibility like that, she’ll step up and she’ll be humble in the sense that she’s new to it and definitely learning. 

    Williamson continues to be a leader after the Euro 2022 win

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    Williamson continues to be a leader after the Euro 2022 win

    “She knows she has such great attributes for that role, which is obviously why Sarina appointed her as captain and I think you could see that throughout the tournament. I’m just really proud of how she kind of held herself and how she led the team. I’m glad that she’s back here with Arsenal now and I get to work with her again.” 

    Little watched the Euros on from afar, though, with the Arsenal captain joining OL Reign in America on a short-term loan this summer. 

    The move meant Little was back in familiar surroundings having enjoyed three seasons with the club – who were previously known as Seattle Reign – between 2014 and 2016.

    One of her teammates out at OL Reign was the legendary Megan Rapinoe and Little said the American was a joy to play with. 

    “Rapinoe’s great,” Little continued.

    Rapinoe has been an excellent teammate for Little

    Getty Images – Getty

    Rapinoe has been an excellent teammate for Little

    “She holds herself to such a high standard and is such a great character to play with. I played with her before for three years at Seattle, so for me she’s just the footballer. 

    “She’s such a skilful and impactful player. She’s really fun to play with. I was just grateful to be able to go back and play with players like Rapinoe, Jess Fishlock and Lauren Barnes, who has been there a long time. So, it was just fun. There’s such a high quality across the board there. It was great to play with those players and play against them again.

    “I got asked by Laura Harvey, my old coach at Seattle and who coached me when I was first at Arsenal, if I would go out and play for the summer. It was probably something I didn’t think was possible. I think it’s maybe new rules, but you’re able to do that now. 

    “I asked the club and Jonas [Eidevall] and they were happy for me to do it. So, it seemed like a good opportunity to go back to a place that’s really special to me in Seattle and to reconnect with people I spent three years with previously and play with some players who I played with before that I had great times with.

    “But also, [it was about] immersing myself in a different dynamic and team to learn in that way and that was great. They welcomed me with open arms, which made it hard to leave. I had a great time and I think it’s put me in a really good place for the start of the season.”

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