Carla Ward: ‘There are a lot of positives to take’ from Arsenal defeat

Victorious in only one of their eight home Barclays Women’s Super League matches this season, Carla Ward sat down to address the media ahead of Aston Villa’s upcoming clash against Leicester City – who are temporarily under the stewardship of Ward’s former Birmingham City coach Jennifer Foster.

This weekend’s meeting will represent the hosts’ final home match in Walsall this season – with their remaining WSL matches against West Ham United and Manchester City set to be played at Villa Park.

Having conceded in the 84th minute, and again in the 86th, against Arsenal on Sunday evening, Ward constructively relayed her thoughts following the disappointing result.

‘We’ve obviously changed systems in the last few weeks, and it has allowed us to look after certain areas we needed to. Against Everton, we managed to get up the pitch. Against Arsenal, we nullified them for large spells – we won’t talk about the third goal, but the first and second goal we are obviously disappointed with. I think there are a lot of positives to take from it, although we did not feel like that at the time.’

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Ward expressed that she is looking forward to Saturday’s midday kick-off against a Leicester City side, with the Foxes already accumulating the same number of points as they did in the entirety of last season – still with five matches left to potentially increase that total.

‘It is one we want to go and get maximum points from of course. I think it’s a points game that we know we can try and go and get points on the board. It won’t be easy – they have lost a few, but I know Jen [Foster] well – she was one of my coaches when I was at Blues [Birmingham City]. She will have them organised for sure, and we expect it to be a tough afternoon because you know they have had a fairly good season so far.’

In terms of team news, long-term injury absentees Daphne van Domselaar and Lucy Staniforth will again be missing, but a positive update was provided on the potential return of attacking asset Kirsty Hanson – who has missed the last two games through injury.

‘We are at the same numbers as last week, which does not really change. We’ve still got the longer-term ones out, however, Kirsty [Hanson] was back on the grass running, and looking like she was in a good place the other day, which was good. I don’t think anything else changes, I think everyone else is same as last week.’

Regarding a possible return to the dugout, after communicating her instructions against Arsenal via a walkie-talkie at Villa Park on Sunday due to illness, Ward advised that she could be back in prime position for the game on Saturday.

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‘After seeing some of those memes, I might stay up there! I am only joking – look, I wasn’t great. I’ll be honest, at the weekend and even at the game, I did not feel particularly great. But I think it’s fair to say it is probably washing out half of the country at the minute. Everywhere I go, somebody has got it somewhere.’

‘We’ve had another member of staff and a player off this week with it, but fortunately they are back in this morning, which is good, but it is just one of those things. You know what it is like when you pick up something. Few days in bed and away we go, but me being me, I couldn’t stay away.’

With Ward set to return to her customary position, and Hanson potentially back in the matchday squad, Aston Villa will be going through all of the gears to make it a memorable moment for all of those in attendance for their final match at the Poundland Bescot Stadium this season.