Former Arsenal striker Kelly Smith has joined the Women’s Super League club’s coaching staff until the end of the season.

The PA news agency understands the 44-year-old is joining the first-team set-up on an informal basis, working with the squad a couple of times a week, and will be in the technical area for next Monday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Wolfsburg at the Emirates Stadium.

Smith has been working at Arsenal’s girls’ academy while completing her A License with the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Back where she belongs ?

Club legend Kelly Smith joins our coaching staff until the end of the season ?

— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) April 26, 2023

Across three spells playing for the Gunners, from 1996 to when she retired in 2017, Smith scored 125 goals in 144 appearances and helped them claim a glut of silverware.

That included winning a quadruple in 2007, with her having netted 30 goals in 34 games across the four competitions.

She also scored 46 times for England – a record Lionesses haul until Ellen White surpassed it in November 2021 – and played for Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics.

Smith told the Times: “After speaking with (Arsenal manager) Jonas (Eidevall) and Clare (Wheatley, the club’s head of women’s football) it was a really easy decision to join the coaching set-up here.

“The club have been really supportive in helping me complete my A License and take the next step in my own post-playing career.

“It’s an exciting time to become part of this team – we’ve seen over the past few weeks just how resilient and together they are and I’m look forward to working with them more closely on and off the pitch at this key point in the season.

“I love this club and it’s such a great feeling to be wearing the Arsenal badge once more.”

Eidevall’s side, who won the Continental Tyres League Cup last month, drew 2-2 in the first leg of the Wolfsburg tie last weekend, fighting back after going 2-0 down. They are currently fourth in the WSL table, six points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand.

Jen Beattie hailed Arsenal's "unbelievable character" as they stayed alive in their Women's Champions League semi-final by rallying for a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

An impressive fightback from 2-0 down gave Arsenal plenty of reason to be buoyant about their chances for the May 1 second leg at Emirates Stadium.

With ACL victims Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and Leah Williamson absent, the weakened Gunners gave a strong account of themselves after a slow start in Germany.

Ewa Pajor put the hosts ahead and Sveindis Jonsdottir fired Wolfsburg two clear in the 24th minute after a defensive aberration from the Gunners, with a misunderstanding in the penalty area presenting the Icelandic forward with an easy chance in front of goal.

Arsenal snatched a lifeline through Rafaelle Souza's header just before half-time, and Stina Blackstenius tucked in an equaliser from close range in the 69th minute.

Player of the match Beattie told "I think the team showed unbelievable character to come back from a two-goal deficit. We're pleased with the result, but it's very much half-time for us. We're looking forward to going back to the Emirates next week with a blank slate."

Wolfsburg edged the expected goals (xG) totals by 2.32 to 1.40, having 12 shots to seven from Arsenal, but the teams are level-pegging and defender Beattie put that down to the WSL team's resilience.

"We've shown that this whole season – the character, the mentality we all have, and the genuine belief we all have between players," said the 31-year-old Scot.

"We're really happy that we came back from 2-0 down: that's a huge feat, especially against a side as good as Wolfsburg. We had the ultimate respect for them and we still do going into the second leg."

Arsenal are hoping for a sell-out for the second leg, as they bid to move a step nearer to becoming European club champions for a second time, having triumphed in 2007.

Beattie spoke of enjoying "incredible" atmospheres when Arsenal Women have played at the club's main stadium previously, adding: "Even the away fans that travelled today have been unbelievable, especially hearing them towards the end of the game. I've no doubt they'll be unbelievable again for us next week."

Wolfsburg head coach Tommy Stroot sensed a chance missed, regretting the goals his team conceded.

He said: "We knew that it would be a close game, and our 2-0 lead flattered us a bit. We were very clinical at the start. The goals we conceded came from a set-piece and a counter-attack, which we should be able to deal with."

England captain Leah Williamson gave a brutal assessment of the serious knee injury that has ruled her out of the Women's World Cup, saying: "Ultimately, I think it's just my time."

The 26-year-old, who led England to Euro 2022 glory, has become the latest Arsenal player to suffer a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Her misfortune follows that of England striker Beth Mead and Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema, club-mates of Williamson who are also both set to miss the July-August tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

It is an injury that is far more prevalent in the women's game than among men, and Williamson is struggling to express her sorrow over the crushing blow she has suffered. She may not play again this year.

She issued a statement shortly after Arsenal confirmed the severity of the injury, which was sustained in Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Women's Super League on Wednesday, when Williamson caught her studs in the turf at Leigh Sports Village.

Pained by the situation that has been sprung on her, Williamson said: "Until I have the words to express my feelings properly I will struggle to verbalise them. The noise around the situation is loud and I need some quiet to let it all sink in.

"Unfortunately the World Cup and Champions League dream is over for me and everyone will think that's the main focus, but it's the day to day of what I'm about to go through that is the most draining of my thoughts.

"I had my tears and made my peace with it the night it happened and since then I have been following the steps I'm told to, in order to best help myself in the short and long term.

"Ultimately, I think it's just my time. In the past couple of years alone I have watched team-mates beat serious illnesses and adversity with the biggest of smiles on their faces.

"I also hold perspective that globally there are much greater difficulties and therefore my circumstances right now are just that, circumstantial, and I've seen a lot worse."

England team-mates Chloe Kelly, Fran Kirby, Keira Walsh, Ella Toone and Alessia Russo were among those to send messages of support, with Williamson having led the Lionesses to Finalissima glory against Brazil just two weeks ago.

Arsenal have a Champions League semi-final coming up against Wolfsburg, as they bid to become European champions for a second time, and Williamson's blow hurts their hopes there.

Clearly, Williamson has suffered an immense misfortune and her reaction is that of a player in shock, although she gave an insight into the stark reality of a modern footballing life by revealing the stress her body and mind has been under in recent months.

She wrote in an Instagram post: "I haven't had a day since last October when I've walked on to the pitch without a physical or mental question mark over me, and that's professional sports. So now I have to listen to my body, give it what it needs and if everything happens for a reason, then we'll see what road this turn sends me down.

"I have given and will continue to give everything that my body, mind and heart possibly has to the Arsenal and Lionesses, I will still be there through thick and thin for all of my team-mates and their biggest supporter.

"All I ask is for a little bit of time and space to deal with all that is to come."

England captain Leah Williamson will miss the World Cup after it was confirmed she has ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament.

Williamson suffered the injury during Arsenal's 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Women's Super League on Wednesday after catching her studs in the turf at Leigh Sports Village.

With the World Cup starting on July 20, Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman will need to consider her other options at centre-back without Williamson, who helped lead her country to European Championships glory on home soil last year.

A statement from Arsenal on Friday confirmed the diagnosis, saying: "We can confirm that Leah Williamson suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in our Barclays Women's Super League match against Manchester United on Wednesday night.

"Leah was substituted in the first half of the game at Leigh Sports Village and underwent further assessment on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury.

"Leah will now begin a period of rehabilitation and is set for an extended spell on the sidelines. She will undergo surgery in due course.

"Everyone at Arsenal will be supporting Leah closely throughout the journey ahead and we would ask that her privacy is respected at this time."

It is the same injury sustained by Williamson's club and country team-mate Beth Mead in November, with Mead in a race against time to make it back in time for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Reacting at a press conference, boss of Arsenal's WSL title rivals Manchester City, Gareth Taylor, said: "It's obviously not good for Leah or for Arsenal or for England as well."

Taylor backed Williamson to come back strongly, saying: "She's young, she's capable enough of recovering," and pointed out the injury was "very similar to what happened with Chloe [Kelly] two seasons ago", with the striker able to return to action and hit England's winner in the European Championship final against Germany last July.

Vivianne Miedema says she has "no hopes" of featuring for the Netherlands at this year's Women's World Cup.

Miedema underwent surgery after rupturing her ACL during Arsenal's Champions League group-stage game against Lyon in December.

The 26-year-old – who is the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer with 95 goals in 115 appearances – joined partner and Arsenal team-mate Beth Mead on the sidelines after the England forward suffered the same injury one month earlier.

Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman recently said Mead required "a miracle" to recover before the World Cup begins in July, and Miedema also expects to miss the tournament.

Asked if she had any hope of featuring in Australia and New Zealand by the BBC, Miedema said: "No hopes. I'm going to miss the World Cup, which is hard.

"But I hope to be back ready for the start of next season. I need to be realistic. Recovery is going really well. It's slow but little steps.

"[Mead is] obviously a bit in front of me, but I think you heard what Sarina said last week; there needs to be a bit of a miracle for her to be fit for the World Cup.

"It's frustrating for me because I'm a month behind, so I see her doing a lot of things and I'm not there yet."

Arsenal defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 at Emirates Stadium to complete a 2-1 turnaround on aggregate and reach the semi-finals of the Women's Champions League.

Trailing to a Lea Schuller header from last week's first leg, Frida Maanum fired in a sensational 20-yard effort to level up the tie within 20 minutes of Wednesday's return game.

Stina Blackstenius powered in a header six minutes later to give Arsenal the lead in the tie for the first time in front of the 21,307 watching spectators in north London.

Jonas Eidevall's side missed chances to kill off the tie, but they saw out the victory to set up a meeting with the winners of Thursday's tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Wolfsburg.

Barcelona earlier booked their spot in the semi-finals, where either Chelsea or Lyon await, with a commanding 5-1 win over Roma at Camp Nou sealing a 6-1 aggregate victory.

Two-goal Fridolina Rolfo scored either side of Maria Leon's curler to put Barca, who finished runners-up to Lyon last season, out of sight before half-time.

Asisat Oshoala tapped in a fourth a minute after the restart and Patricia Guijarro headed in from a corner to complete the rout.

Competition debutants Roma registered a couple of attempts on target in the remaining 40 minutes, but it was plain sailing for Barca in their quest for a second European crown.

Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall believes the continued growth of the Women's Super League should lead to an English team winning the Women's Champions League soon.

The Gunners won the UEFA Women's Cup in 2006-07, but no English side has lifted the trophy since the inception of the Champions League format in 2009, with Chelsea losing to Barcelona in the final in 2020-21.

Ahead of Arsenal's quarter-final second leg against Bayern Munich, with the German outfit leading 1-0 from the first leg, Eidevall expressed his optimism for WSL teams in Europe in future.

"It's natural that the clubs who have invested the most have also been the most successful ones," the Swedish coach said. "If you see how the WSL has grown this year with more games played at bigger stadiums, good attendances, but also great atmospheres.

"We also see the excitement and competition around all three things that matter in the league – competition to win the league, competition to qualify for the Champions League, [and] competition to not be relegated.

"That means that a lot of games here in the spring will have an important sporting outcome, which is great for the entertainment value. Maybe not for managers' hearts and ability to not have grey hair colour, but for everyone else, that's exciting.

"That's building a brand that no other European league has at the moment. That's also going to be reflected then in how you can build and grow the product.

"While I think other European clubs have been successful because they've had owners and the structure to invest, English clubs will be successful because of the product we build together, with the league being the driving force behind that. It's going to create a better future for all English clubs if we are co-operating and building this together.

"I know that's what the players are looking for, they want to come to the most competitive league, the best environment, the best atmosphere.

"We're not there yet, but the first steps have been taken and it's important to keep taking those steps so the future can be for English clubs in Europe also."

According to Eidevall, it is a case of 'if you build it, the trophies will come', and he hopes his Arsenal team are the ones to get over the line in Europe.

"If you build things over here, it's only of matter of time before an English club wins the Champions League," he added. "Both clubs that are in the competition this year have the potential to do it [Arsenal and Chelsea], it doesn't have to be in the distant future. Time will be in the English clubs' favour as long as this progression continues.

"Being the champion of a continent, it is probably the greatest thing you can win in club football in Europe and we very proud in our history to be the only English club that did it. If, in the future, we could repeat that, it would be great.

"I have the belief that we can beat any team on any give day so let's make the most of it tomorrow and maybe we can progress. Then once you reach semi-finals, everyone is capable of winning the trophy."

Beth Mead will miss the Women's World Cup unless "a miracle happens", according to England head coach Sarina Wiegman.

The Arsenal forward suffered an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury in November and has not played since.

Such injuries are long-term setbacks, and it was the cruellest of blows for Mead, coming so soon after she played a starring role in England's Euro 2022 triumph.

Mead won the Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boot as hosts England swept to glory, edging out Germany 2-1 in the Wembley Stadium final on July 31.

The 27-year-old former Sunderland striker would have been central to England's plans for this year's global tournament, which is being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in July and August.

Wiegman believes there is next to no chance of Mead being fit to feature for the Lionesses, however.

Speaking in a press conference on Tuesday, Wiegman said of Mead: "I had a conversation with her. She's doing well. She's in rehab and she's doing good.

"But the World Cup is actually too early, so what we said now is she's not in our plans now.

"[She should] just really take the time to get back well, but if a miracle happens and she goes so fast we will reconsider it, but at this moment I don't expect that."

England have home friendlies against Australia and Brazil in April as they build towards the focal point of the year.

There are also worries over Chelsea forward Fran Kirby, who is sidelined with a knee injury of her own, albeit not one as serious as the one Mead sustained.

"Of course I'm concerned because she's been out for a while now," Wiegman said. "But I want to keep this opportunity open, and she'll be treated as we treat anyone else.

"Hopefully she gets fit, gets on the pitch, gets playing, and then you need to show performance and fitness. It's a little concern, but also don't think too much forward, just see how she progresses."

Salma Paralluelo scored the only goal of the game as Barcelona edged Roma 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in the quarter-finals of the Women's Champions League.

The 19-year-old curled a left-footed effort from outside the box to beat Camelia Ceasar after 34 minutes, after the Roma goalkeeper had frustrated the visitors with a number of fine saves.

Last season's runners-up could not extend their advantage in the second half, while Roma failed to convert a number of chances in the latter stages to pull the tie level.


It's advantage Barcelona after a narrow win in Rome #UWCL

— UEFA Women’s Champions League (@UWCL) March 21, 2023

Elsewhere, Arsenal were frustrated at Allianz Arena by Bayern Munich and suffered a 1-0 loss despite dominating proceedings.

The Gunners saw efforts from Stina Blackstenius and Leah Williamson cleared off the line as they peppered the hosts' goal with 25 shots – though only six were on target.

Lea Schuller's 39th-minute header proved decisive, with Jonas Eidevall's side needing a turnaround in the second leg if they are to reach the semi-finals for the first time in a decade.

Leah Williamson toasted an end to Arsenal's trophy drought as England's Euro 2022 captain helped the Gunners topple Chelsea in the Women's League Cup final.

The leader of the Lionesses is vice-captain of Arsenal, with the 25-year-old having been part of the side that won the 2018-19 Women's Super League.

Sunday's success at Selhurst Park was the first silverware the team have won since that league championship, with captain Kim Little scoring from the spot in a 3-1 win over Emma Hayes' Blues.

Australia star Sam Kerr headed Chelsea into a second-minute lead, with the side from west London looking to follow up their FA Cup victory over Arsenal from seven days earlier.

However, Arsenal turned it around, with Swedish forward Stina Blackstenius slotting a 16th-minute equaliser before Scottish midfielder Little netted a penalty eight minutes later after Katie McCabe was tripped.

An own goal from Niamh Charles in first-half stoppage time turned out to be the game's final goal, giving Arsenal a record-extending sixth triumph in the competition.

Williamson said of the result: "I feel good, you've got to break the chain at some point so today was that day."

Satisfied skipper Little told BBC Sport: "I'm so proud of the team. Off the back of last week's result we needed to turn it around, and we had a good week's training and talked about a lot of things we needed to be better at.

"I was thinking after they scored, 'what could we have done to stop that?', because it was such a good goal. But because it was so early we just needed to reset and we did that, and the rest of our first-half performance was pretty special and that's what won us the match today.

"We want to win trophies, and we're disappointed in ourselves that we've not done that before now, but here it is, and I'm just happy and proud of the girls."

Arsenal edged the game by 1.56 to 1.20 on expected goals, despite having just eight goal attempts to 14 by Chelsea.

Head coach Jonas Eidevall, who has delivered silverware just 18 months into his reign, gave his coat away after the game to a fan who had offered the team encouragement after the FA Cup loss to Chelsea.

The Swedish coach explained to "I said, 'People like you are what make this football club great. Your optimism gives me energy, and I can give that back to the team and it can help our performance. So, you come here and do the same thing next Sunday and we win, you’ll get my coat.'

"I’m very happy for him, very happy for us and now I just need to sort out a new coat."

Emma Hayes felt Chelsea showed "the mentality of champions" to overcome fellow heavyweights Arsenal 2-0 in the Women's FA Cup on Sunday.

The crisis in the men's team has not proven contagious, with Hayes' women staying on course for a possible domestic treble by booking a quarter-final place.

Goals from Sophie Ingle in the 21st minute and Sam Kerr in the 56th minute, both measured finishes from inside the penalty area, meant the cup derby spoils went to the Blues at Kingsmeadow.

In the Women's Super League, Chelsea sit a point behind Manchester United but have a game in hand, while Hayes' side will face Arsenal again next week in the WSL Cup final.

Back on duty after the international break, Hayes was delighted her travel-weary players found enough to end the FA Cup hopes of the Gunners.

Hayes told BBC Two: "That's the mentality of champions. It's not pretty, it was sluggish, a lot of technical errors, but tactically they carried out everything I asked of them.

"There's two good teams. Both are going to create chances, and we were clinical."

Asked what pleased her the most about Chelsea's impressive display, Hayes said: "It's always mentality: when your legs are heavy, your brain's tired, the commitment to stay in the game and take your chances in the right moment.

"Look at the players out there . Across the team I thought it was a resilient performance and comfortable, even though we didn't have much of the ball in the second half. That was intentional."

Two of the favourites for the Women's Champions League will face each other in the quarter-finals as holders Lyon were drawn against Chelsea.

The 2021-22 runners-up Barcelona will take on Roma in the last eight, while Paris Saint-Germain play Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich come up against Arsenal.

The first legs are scheduled for March 21 and 22, with the return fixtures a week later.

The semi-final draw was also made on Friday, with the winners of PSG and Wolfsburg set to face the winners of Bayern and Arsenal, while the winners of Lyon and Chelsea will go up against the winners of Barca and Roma.

Eindhoven will host the final on June 3.

Sarina Wiegman is not making any early call on Beth Mead's involvement in this year's Women's World Cup.

Mead won the Player of the Tournament award and the Golden Boot as England celebrated an historic triumph at their home Women's Euro 2022.

The Arsenal striker also finished in second place in last year's Ballon d'Or Feminin voting and would have a key role to play for Wiegman's Lionesses in Australia and New Zealand in July.

But Mead's status ahead of the finals is uncertain as she continues her recovery from an ACL tear in November.

As Wiegman named her latest England squad on Tuesday, she was asked if consideration had been given to plans that did not include Mead.

But featuring at the World Cup remains a target for the 27-year-old.

"It's a little early to say. I don't want to push it. She's had so many things going on," Wiegman said of Mead, whose mother died last year from ovarian cancer.


"We'll see how her rehabilitation goes, then we'll look at the future. I don't want her to look too far forward right now because of her situation.

"She had of course other private issues. I left the knee situation until now as I just wanted her to be okay and get settled with the situation and sadness she had around her.

"She told me she's doing well. She really wants to make [the World Cup]. First, she needs to settle and we will see from there. For now, I won't push that."

Liverpool defender and Women's Super League (WSL) record appearance maker Gilly Flaherty has announced her retirement from playing at the age of 31 for family reasons.

Flaherty made 177 WSL appearances with Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool, whom she joined last July.

She brings down the curtain on a career that saw her win four WSL titles, seven Women's FA Cups and the Women's Champions League in 2007.

London-born Flaherty, who also won nine caps for England, took the decision to hang up her boots following the recent death of her father.

"It isn't a decision I've taken lightly but one I've reached after speaking with those closest to me," she said in a statement published on Liverpool's official website on Thursday.

"Losing my dad just before Christmas has left me heartbroken – for 22 years we shared our love of football and playing-wise I don't want to carry on without him by my side.

"Playing-wise, I know the right decision is for me to call it a day. The time is right for me to be around my family and to be nearest to those closest to me."

Former West Ham captain Flaherty's final WSL appearance came against the Hammers in a 2-0 win for Liverpool last month.

Jordan Nobbs has been backed to "cement her place" in the England team after ending a 12-year Arsenal career by making a surprise move to Aston Villa.

The 69-cap midfielder is a former Lionesses vice-captain whose career has been hit by knee and ankle injuries in recent seasons.

The switch to Women's Super League rivals Villa, announced on Thursday, gives Nobbs a fresh start as she seeks regular club football.

Nobbs was recalled by Sarina Wiegman to the England squad after missing the Euro 2022 win through injury, and the 30-year-old has now signed an 18-month deal with Villa, hoping it will be the springboard to a key role with the Lionesses at the 2023 World Cup.

Daughter of former Hartlepool defender Keith Nobbs, Nobbs joined Arsenal from Sunderland in August 2010 and won WSL titles in 2011, 2012 and 2019 with the Gunners, also winning the Women's FA Cup four times.

She hit 81 goals in 270 games for Arsenal, the north London club said.

Villa manager Carla Ward said: "This is a big signing for us and Jordan is one of the country's most decorated footballers. She's a winner and will bring a wealth of experience that her new team-mates will thrive off."

Ward told Villa's website: "We're delighted to secure her signature and we hope this move can help the football club as well as cement her place back in the international set-up."

Arsenal sporting director Edu described Nobbs as "a wonderful servant" to the club who had "written her name into the Arsenal history books".

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