Arsenal's Kerr steeled for familiar Glasgow

"We'll prepare as we normally do, it's a bonus we know their players," Arsenal LFC's Scottish manager Shelley Kerr told UEFA.com as they prepare to face Glasgow City LFC.

Shelley Kerr (right) with player-assistant coach Kelly Smith
Shelley Kerr (right) with player-assistant coach Kelly Smith ©The FA via Getty Images

The latest chapter in the Anglo-Scottish football rivalry is written on Saturday when for the first time teams from these nations meet in UEFA women's club competition.

Arsenal LFC welcome Glasgow City LFC in the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 16 first leg, with the Gunners hoping to extend their record of reaching the quarter-finals in all 11 previous European entries – whereas the Scottish title holders have never made the last eight.

The 2007 champions, beaten in the semis for the last three seasons, Arsenal have long had a strong Caledonian connection from the days when Julie Fleeting led their line, and now not only boast Kim Little, Emma Mitchell and Caroline Weir, but also a Scottish manager in Shelley Kerr.

"It's a British derby. Between Scotland and England there are always tough games – I'm sure this one will be no different," former Scotland youth coach Kerr told UEFA.com. "For the last ten years there's always been Scottish players at Arsenal. We're just focused on ourselves, we just have to prepare like we do for every other game and that's what we'll do."

In the round of 32, Arsenal saw off Kazakhstan's WFC CSHVSM-Kairat 18-2 on aggregate, but there is no such long journey to face unfamiliar opposition this time, not least as the Gunners won a friendly 5-0 at Glasgow City in February.

"I know a lot of their players, I know the manager, I know a lot of people connected with the club," said Kerr, who could have assistant coach Kelly Smith available to play after injury. She may also be up against Glasgow's Wales midfielder Jess Fishlock despite her fractuturing a wrist a fortnight ago against England.

"We will focus on our own preparations, sometimes it can be overkill if you go into too much depth on your opponents," Kerr added. "We'll prepare as we normally do, it is a bit of a bonus that we know all their players and know all their attributes."

Kerr took over as manager just after the Glasgow friendly following Laura Harvey's departure for Seattle Reign FC. She has since helped Arsenal to last season's European semi-finals and lifted both the FA Women's Cup and FA Women's Super League (WSL) Cup – but Arsenal lost their league title to Liverpool LFC. Consequently they must win the UEFA Women's Champions League this season to return in 2014/15.

"It's only been six months, not even a full year," said Kerr, on the shortlist of ten for the 2013 FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football award. "It's been a busy six months in terms of competitions we've been involved in. Looking back as a club we've achieved quite a lot this year. Obviously we're disappointed in not retaining our title but it shows other teams are bridging the gap and that's what we need to be on the ball with as well."