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Kelly McDougall is hoping that Everton will be well supported when they take on Arsenal in the FA Women's Community Shield at Crewe.
The Toffees face a daunting task against the double-winning Gunners, who have not lost a league game since October 2003, a run of 46 matches, but the 22-year-old feels that a strong support would benefit her side. "It's not strictly in the North West, but more northern that we could have hoped for - only about 45 minutes away from Merseyside," says Kelly. "Crowd wise, we will have a good advantage - at least I hope so!
"Last year we played Arsenal in the semi finals of the F.A.Women's Cup at Southport and we had the crowd behind us. We won 3-0 and they certainly helped and inspired us."
Everton will go into the match as underdogs but, as Kelly points out, they are capable of challenging Arsenal in any match. "We seem to do well against Arsenal, our record isn't too bad," she says. "We've drawn with them a few times, beat them in the Cup semi final and. although we lost heavily to them in our last meeting, we played most of the second half with ten players and Arsenal are the kind of side who punish you heavily if you are a player short.
"We get amongst them and do alright but Arsenal are a great team, full of great players. It's going to be a very tough task for us but it should be a good game and worth watching."
With Arsenal having won both major trophies, Everton were chosen to be their Shield opponents by virtue of finishing as runners-up in the league last season. Having reached the F.A.Women's Cup Final the previous season, Mo Marley's team are a rapidly emerging force in the women's game.
"Last year our aim was to improve on third place and we did that," adds Kelly. "It just shows that we are developing as a team and getting a little closer to winning things.
"I am confident that, with the players we have and our coaching staff, we can challenge next year."
During the summer, Everton undertook a ground-breaking pre-season tour of Canada. "The tour has helped us establish ourselves as a good club," says Kelly. "We played four games in six days, in tremendous heat, but we coped quite well. Overall, it was a massive success.
"We finished the tour against Ottawa Fury, who have several internationals in their team. It wasn't a bad game but we didn't play fantastic as the players were a little tired and we lost 1-0.
"But it was a great experience, an excellent stepping stone to the start of pre-season and I hope we can do it again."
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