Sunderland’s last meeting with Arsenal sparked a bleak run of form, Lucy Staniforth concedes, but the midfielder is hoping tomorrow’s clash can have the opposite effect.
The pair met in the SSE Women’s FA Cup semi-final in April with the Gunners running out 7-0 victors, before going on to lift the trophy with a 1-0 defeat of Chelsea at Wembley.
Sunderland picked up two points from their subsequent five FA Women’s Super League 1 matches until the mid-season break, leaving them second bottom.
But, with time to regroup on the training pitch, Staniforth is looking for the trip to Boreham Wood to be the beginning of a fresh start.
“Playing them again gives us the chance to put right what went wrong in that game, and hopefully they’ll underestimate us a little bit as that’s usually when Sunderland rise to the challenge,” said the 23-year-old.
“It was not a pretty game for us to watch back, but we needed to do that as they have quality throughout their team, and we believe in ourselves now.
“We know what they’re about and what they can do, but you can never count us out and we want to lay down a marker.
“We’re definitely looking forward to getting back on the pitch, and the month off has given us a chance to take a step back from all the games we’ve been playing and look at the areas we could be working on.
“It has been really good for us and the squad certainly feels rejuvenated.
“We have a really strong group of players, and we’re looking forward to showing what we’re capable of again.”
Arsenal have not stepped out onto the pitch since their triumphant day at Wembley, with their last scheduled game against Doncaster Rovers Belles postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
It means Pedro Martinez Losa’s team have games in hand on all of the clubs above them in the WSL 1 table and trail leaders Manchester City by 12 points.
Defender Alex Scott knows victory over Sunderland is vital to reigniting their title challenge, but has warned against taking anything for granted.
“We do have points to make up on the sides above us, but we’ve already played Sunderland in the first half of the season to get to the FA Cup final which can give us some confidence,” said the England star.
“They will have reflected on that game and been very disappointed, and I don’t think they have had the start they were hoping for either, so I’m sure they will be the same as us and desperate for three points.”