London City Lionesses travel to face Arsenal in Vitality Women's FA Cup clash


London City’s Vitality Women's FA Cup campaign gets back underway this weekend, as the side prepare to face off against WSL leaders, Arsenal.

Going into the match, a spring will certainly be in the Lionesses step, following Sunday’s hard fought 1-0 win against Coventry United.

Speaking on the performance, manager Melissa Phillips had this to say: “We knew it was going to be a tough game based on the last time we saw them and the circumstance that they're in, so we knew it was going to be a case of plugging away, staying patient and maintaining our game plan.

“We stuck to our game plan throughout and just kept chipping away. We had four players come on and really change the game with energy and a different set of attacking tools. So, it was a fantastic team performance, and I’m really proud of the group.”

Indeed, for the Lionesses attack, it really was an exercise in patience, as they came up against a Coventry backline who were content to sit back and try and ride out the storm.

“We knew it would require a lot of patience,” said Atlanta Primus, “we knew we were going to have to keep chipping away and finding different ways to break them down, and credit to the girls, we stuck to our game plan and came out on top.

It was Kenni Thompson’s strike from distance that proved to be the difference in the end and ensured that the Lionesses took home all three points.

“She's an incredibly technical player,” remarked Phillips, but she does that consistently in training, and that's what we speak about; making sure that you're always ready for your moment and that you’re sharp when you step on the pitch, and she was just that.”

But of course a very different test awaits the Lionesses this Sunday, when they travel to north London to face an Arsenal side who, despite dropping a few points in recent games, are still one of the most dangerous teams in the country.

Yet facing WSL opposition is nothing new for the Lionesses, with this season's Continental Cup games seeing City pick up wins over both Brighton and Birmingham City.

“Whilst Arsenal are another level up from what we've seen from a Super League team so far,” said Phillips, “I think we can draw a lot from our experiences both in and out of possession in the way that we performed against the likes of Birmingham, Brighton, and West Ham.

“We went on the road to Brighton and put in a fantastic performance, and ultimately came out with a result. And all those things add to the belief bank, so it's just about going out and making sure we're prepared and that we execute on the day.”

For Primus and the rest of her teammates, that confidence following those clashes against Birmingham and Brighton, will certainly help going into what will certainly be one of the toughest tests this season.

“Putting in good performances against top WSL sides is something that we take a lot of confidence from, and it shows that we can compete at that level,” said Primus.

“But now we prepare and we focus on ourselves. What can we do to make it difficult for them? And how can we make it difficult for them in the attack? So, we’re looking forward to the challenge this weekend.”

It will certainly be a challenge, but one that the team are clearly relishing.

“I don't think we would want to draw anybody other than an Arsenal or somebody sitting at the top,” remarked Phillips, “it’s a great opportunity to go and play the top of the Super League.

“We want to be a Super League team and then a competitive team within the Super League, and to coin the phrase of our Head of Performance, ‘the future is now’, so we’re really excited for the test and the opportunity.”

And of course, with the game being selected for live coverage on both the FA Player and the BBC Red Button, fans from all over will have a chance to watch the game.

“We've got a lot of players with friends and family over in the US and elsewhere that will certainly be tuning in,” said Phillips, “and it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity for us to go showcase ourselves and help continue to put London City on the map!”

London City Lionesses take on Arsenal at Meadow Park, on Sunday the 30th of January. Click the link to get your tickets now, or tune in live on the BBC Red Button or the FA Player from 12:30!

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