Joe Montemurro is confident his Arsenal players are capable of asking Alex Morgan some searching questions in the Women’s FA Cup quarter-final at home against Tottenham on Saturday.
The USA striker, possibly the most high-profile import in the Women’s Super League, is short of match fitness after giving birth to her first child, a daughter, four months ago and may not start but her presence has invested the tie with added gloss.
Should Morgan be deemed ready to test his defence, Montemurro believes they will relish the challenge of handling a 31-year-old forward whose arrival at Spurs on a short-term loan from Orlando Pride represents a significant coup.
“With so many of my players away on international duty this week we’ve only got six here at the moment,” said Arsenal’s manager. “But a lot of big-name players have come to England before Alex and my team’s reaction has always been: ‘Great, the level’s going to be amazing, we get to test ourselves against the best.’
“We’ve got to go out and play our football and see if these exciting new players adhere to our levels. I’m loving the little local rivalry we’re developing with Tottenham, they’re a good team and the added emotion of the derby will make it very tough. It’s a big game.”
Considering Morgan has not played competitively for more than a year, this quarter-final may have arrived a little early for her but Arsenal have been quick to hit a formidable stride, beating Reading 6-1 and West Ham 9-1 in their opening WSL games. “Perfection we try to strive for,” said Montemurro. “But perfection doesn’t really exist. There’s always things that need fixing, that we can better at. But the main thing is keeping our standards very high.”
Perfection will feel more elusive than ever in an unusually congested season, staging both the delayed 2019-20 FA Cup and the 2020-21 edition.
“Completing last season’s FA Cup sends a very important message,” said Montemurro. “It gives us five or six games in 20 days but we have to be smart.”