New signing expects Arsenal Ladies to bounce back after Champions League exit
12:32 03 April 2014
Anouk Hoogendijk believes Arsenal’s new-look squad need time to knit together as they dust themselves down after the disappointment of their European exit.
Hoogendijk, who has just returned from injury, was an unused substitute as the Gunners were dumped out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Birmingham City on Sunday.
The 3-0 aggregate defeat leaves Arsenal to focus exclusively on domestic matters, with an FA Cup tie at home to Gillingham a week on Sunday and the start of their new Women’s Super League campaign three days later.
And the Dutch midfielder, one of six new signings at the club since the end of last season, expects the Gunners to show their full potential once the league gets under way.
“The Champions League is the biggest thing and I really hoped to play in the semi-finals,” said Hoogendijk. “It was disappointing because I know we have a strong squad – you can see that in training.
“The players are technically really good and we have a lot of quality in the team, but we didn’t show it in the games [against Birmingham]. We can do so much better.
“But I think we need a little bit more time to get to know each other and now we have a bit of time before the first league game, so hopefully we will do better than in the Champions League games.
“I expect it will be better because, now we know that we’re not there yet, we have to practise a lot and train together and speak about it, then we will show what we can do.”
The 28-year-old, who can also play in central defence, is hoping to make her Arsenal debut in the FA Cup tie after a medial ligament injury kept her sidelined for four months.
And she admits the chance to play alongside global legends such as Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey helped convince her to move to London after spending most of her career in her homeland with Utrecht and Ajax.
“Kelly is such a big name over the world and it’s great to train and play with her and also Rachel Yankey, Alex Scott and the Japanese players [Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga].
“It is a big honour to play with girls like these. I’m really happy to be fit again and training with the team. The training is a really high level and everyone’s really nice to me.
“There is now [attacking midfielder] Jackie Groenen playing for Chelsea, so I’m not the only Dutch player in England and it’s not so far, so maybe more girls will follow us.
“But I’m sure the Dutch clubs would prefer to keep players in Holland and have a strong league there. The league in England is totally different to the Dutch league – it’s more of a physical game.”