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Cushing, ‘Arsenal are not better than us’

Manchester City prepare to face the Gunners in the Women's Super League after winning the FA Cup on Saturday with a 3-0 victory over West Ham

06 May, 2019 — By Catherine Etoe

MANCHESTER City completed a glorious cup double on Saturday when they beat West Ham United 3-0 to lift the FA Women’s Cup – but manager Nick Cushing insists they will not take their feet “off the gas” when they face Arsenal this weekend.

City are unbeaten on the domestic front this term, but they were undone in the Women’s Super League title race by five draws and had to look on as the Gunners were crowned champions at the end of April.

Cushing’s team, led by former Arsenal captain Steph Houghton, had reason to celebrate at Wembley after goals from Keira Walsh, player of the match Georgia Stanway and teenage substitute Lauren Hemp saw them beat West Ham and finish their FA Cup campaign without conceding a goal.

But with one league match still to play – an away clash with champions Arsenal this Saturday – their head coach is not ready to raise a toast to the season just yet.

“We feel Arsenal deserve the league, but we don’t feel they were better than us,” Cushing said. “We won’t be taking our foot of the gas, we won’t be joining any kind of party, we’ll just be playing to try and win and if it means we go undefeated, we’ll be proud of that as well.”

FA Cup final debutants West Ham, in their first season as top flight professionals, left Wembley with pride intact after making a game of it against favourites City in front 43,264 supporters.

Striker Jane Ross came close to breaking down City’s steadfast defence after half an hour, but the Scotland international was denied by a reaction save from England keeper Karen Bardsley.

It was honours even at the break, but experienced City raised their game after the restart and departed the stadium having added the FA Cup title to the Continental League Cup crown they won after a penalty shoot-out with Arsenal in February.

Afterwards, Hammers’ captain and former Arsenal quadruple winner Gilly Flaherty said the team could look back on the match with pride and insisted they would benefit from the experience.

“Regardless of the result today, they are taking away memories that will last them a lifetime and serve them forward going in other games,” she said. “They will never forget that defeat, never forget the feel of it and it will spur them on for the rest of their careers. They are gutted in there, but the team spirit we have is fantastic and we’ll pull through. But we’re sitting mid-table, had no relegation battle. We’ve done everyone proud.”

• Arsenal host Manchester City at Meadow Park, Borehamwood on Saturday 11 May. Kick off is at 12.30pm.

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