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England defender seeks Champions League success after return to Arsenal Ladies

PUBLISHED: 07:20 24 March 2014

Casey Stoney, England

Casey Stoney, England

EMPICS Sport

Casey Stoney is desperate to restock her trophy cabinet after returning to Arsenal – beginning with a Champions League winners’ medal.

The experienced England defender is expected to make her second debut for the Gunners when they travel to Birmingham City for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Monday night.

Stoney led Charlton to three domestic cup successes after leaving Arsenal 12 years ago, but has not won silverware since the last of those in 2006 – and she is determined to end that drought as soon as possible.

“There’s an expectation that I’ve not really experienced since the first time I was at Arsenal,” said the 31-year-old. “When you go out and pull on that Arsenal shirt you’re looking to win trophies.

“That’s why I came back to the club, to win things. I’d like to think I’ve got the mentality of a winner – I don’t even play a board game without wanting to win it – but it’s been a long time.

“You’ve got to enter every competition with the intention of winning it and it’s a long time since I played in the Champions League, so I’m absolutely buzzing.

“At club level, it’s one of the best competitions in the world, so I’m really looking forward to it and I’d love to add a winners’ medal to my CV.

“Obviously we’ve got a bit of work to do before we can think about that but, if we can beat Birmingham, we’ll be a step closer. Then you’re only three games away and I think it’s achievable.”

Stoney, who has won over a century of England caps and also captained the Great Britain squad at London 2012, spent four years at Chelsea and then two at Lincoln after the Charlton women’s team were disbanded.

But she had no hesitation in returning to Arsenal, even though the squad has undergone considerable transition since the end of the 2013 Women’s Super League season.

Eight players have moved on, with Stoney one of six to join the Gunners in the same period, including defender Anouk Hoogendijk, from Ajax, and Japanese duo Yukari Kinga and Shinobu Ohno.

“I was talking to three or four clubs but, when I’d met [manager] Shelley [Kerr] and heard the club’s ambition, coming back was a no-brainer,” said Stoney.

“Arsenal have gone from strength to strength since I left and there have been big changes at the club, but the squad are all working hard and I’m really excited to be part of it.

“I think I bring a bit of experience with me and, as an experienced player, one of your roles is to get everyone singing from the same song sheet – although I’m not too good at speaking Japanese!

“The two Japanese players have won World Cup and Olympic medals and there’s no-one in England that can say the same – plus the Dutch girl looks a great player, so I think we’ve gained a lot.”

Like Arsenal, the Blues have lost key players during the close season, with Laura Bassett and Rachel Williams moving to Chelsea and Isobel Christiansen signing for Manchester City.

Nevertheless, Stoney expects a stern examination for the Gunners’ new-look side in both Monday’s first leg and the return match, which takes place at The Hive, Barnet, on Sunday.

“Birmingham have had a lot of changes, but they’ve still got a good side, with a number of experienced players like Karen Carney, and they like to play football,” added Stoney.

“Personally I prefer to be at home in the second leg, but the important thing is that we go there, perform 100 per cent and do our jobs properly and get a good result on Monday.”

Tickets for the second leg, which kicks off at 2pm, are available from arsenal.com or on the gate, priced at £5 (adults) and £2.50 (concessions).

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