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Gunners boss wants to stay in Europe

Arsenal prepare for Fiorentina test as club return to Champions League after six-year hiatus

29 August, 2019 — By Steve Barnett

Arsenal face a two-legged test against Fiorentina in the Women’s Champions League round of 32

ARSENAL will be going for goals when they make their return to Champions League football next month after almost six years away, says manager Joe Montemurro.

The Gunners secured a place among Europe’s elite by winning the league title for the first time in seven years last season.

Their reward is a two-legged tie against Italian Serie A runners-up Fiorentina in the Women’s Champions League round of 32, starting at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence on Thursday, September 12, before hosting the return leg at Meadow Park on September 26.

The trip to Tuscany promises to be a poignant one for Montemurro, as the Australian returns to the city where he first completed his UEFA pro licence.

“It was a great honour to study there, it was a very exclusive course,” he told the Arsenal club website.

“Italy is probably in the top three or four places to study in Europe. Their coaching methodology and their vision of football is unbelievable and it taught me a lot. The Italians are clued up and they know it’s about 95 or 96 minutes, and not just playing well for small spells.”

The Gunners are the only British team to have won the Champions League as part of their historic quadruple-winning season in 2007.

Montemurro admitted that they will be the underdogs when they play Fiorentina, but he has a very clear gameplan for pulling off an Italian job in his first European match since taking charge of the north Londoners.

He added: “They’re the favourites, they’ve been in the competition recently and we haven’t for five or six years now.

“They know what it’s all about and we don’t yet. But we’ll be prepared. Part of playing Wolfsburg [in Austria in pre-season] was just to travel with the group and get an idea of what is involved – that was all part of the planning.

“The plan now is to try and win in Florence and come back home and try to win again.”

The Gunners have been working hard during pre-season. Just before the Champions League draw earlier this month they welcomed Barcelona to Meadow Park. Despite taking the lead through Katie McCabe, Arsenal were eventually beaten 5-2.

Kim Little was also on target against the Spanish giants, converting from the penalty spot following a handball.

There was a notable goalscorer on Sunday when Arsenal smashed north London rivals Spurs in a friendly.

Jordan Nobbs found the back of the net with her first shot after returning from a serious knee injury in the pre-season showpiece at Meadow Park. The 26-year-old England midfielder, who missed the World Cup after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in November, said on social media: “281 days later… it feels good to be back. I can’t thank the fans and players enough. It’s the best badge in the world.”

Dutch striker Jill Roord, who joined the club this summer, scored a hat-trick against Tottenham, while Vivianne Miedema and Jennifer Beattie were also on the scoresheet.

The champions kick off the defence of their Women’s Super League crown at home against West Ham on Sunday, September 8.

Looking ahead to the fixture Montemurro added: “We played Barcelona with the major block of players who were at the World Cup not long back.

“We knew we were a bit behind in the game, but now we’re happy with the way things are going. To be honest, we don’t want to peak now.

“We want a little bit left in the tank and today was a good showcase for where we are and what we still need to do.”

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