The most experienced European campaigners in Tuesday's UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 draw, Arsenal LFC have "one hand" on the inaugural FA Women's Super League trophy according to goalscorer Kim Little after a crucial 1-0 defeat of Everton in their penultimate game.
Arsenal won the last seven FA Women's Premier League titles up to the formation of the new eight-team English summer competition this year, but have spent most of the season trailing Birmingham City LFC. However, in successive home games Birmingham lost to Everton and were held by Arsenal, who beat Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC 3-0 on Sunday and followed that up on Thursday with a live televised defeat of the Toffees.
Everton had the better of the first half in unseasonably stormy conditions at Arsenal's Meadow Park home, but things turned early in the second half when Little picked up the ball 30 metres out, embarked on a run and shot past Rachel Brown from outside the box. That took Arsenal top for the first time since the opening game, a point ahead of Birmingham with the last set of fixtures to go on 28 August, when the Gunners visit bottom side Liverpool LFC.
"With two teams like ours, it's always going to be the final little details that win or lose you games and Kim Little pops up with some quality to win it," Arsenal manager Laura Harvey said. "Luck was on our side at times and there was a great save from Emma Byrne [denying Natasha Dowie at point-blank range] to keep it at 1-0. That's what wins you football matches and hopefully wins you titles."
Everton assistant manager Andy Spence rued: "Probably the only time we allowed Kim to get away she showed her quality from 25 yards. I am disappointed in that sense and with our quality in the attacking third."
Scottish international Little added: "
We have maybe one hand on the trophy but no way have we won it yet. We've got a hard game against Liverpool to play and it's so tight that if we slip up at all, Birmingham are in. We had to step up our game [for the new league] because all the teams are so competitive and fit, every team's got great players."
After the WSL decider – when they hope to ensure their berth in the 2012/13 UEFA Women's Champions League that concludes in London – last season's semi-finalists will turn their thoughts to this term's European competition and their last 32 tie on 28/29 September and 5/6 October.
Little, whose club have only missed one of the 11 seasons of UEFA club compettion and are seeded, said: "There are a lot of British teams in that, a Scottish team [Glasgow City FC] and an Irish team [Peamount United], we look forward to that. Maybe I can play some of my Scottish friends from up there!"
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