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Everton have pushed Arsenal hard in the Premier League title race this season and on Sunday, they have a chance to make their mark in the semi finals of the F.A.Women's Cup when they take on the Gunners.
Jill Scott is set to take her place in the heart of a tough midfield battle which could go a long way to deciding the game and she told Women's Soccer Scene that the importance of the match cannot be overestimated. "It's our biggest game of the season," she admitted. "Everyone in the draw probably wanted to avoid Arsenal but you have got to play the best to be the best - if we don't beat them, we don't deserve to be in the Final.
"I don't want to get a step ahead but it would be fantastic if we beat Arsenal - everyone dreams to play in an F.A.Cup Final."
This will be Jill's second semi final in successive years and, like her team mates, she is determined to bury the memories of last year when they were beaten on penalties by Leeds Carnegie. "We were devastated when we lost to Leeds," she recalls, "we feel we have a point to prove this year."
Although much has been said and written about Arsenal losing players from their squad to America, Jill is under no illusions about the task that faces her side. "They (Arsenal) have lost three great players but, whoever Arsenal puts out on the pitch, they will have a great squad," she says. "They've got some really good players to come in so it won't make a difference, they will still be the toughest of opponents."
Everton themselves will go into the match high on confidence though, having won every league game so far, although they are yet to record a victory over the Gunners this season. "The season's gone well and we are starting to get consistent in our performances," says Jill. "We played Arsenal in the League Cup and got beaten and we all felt we could have played better. Then we won 4-0 against Chelsea and that was the turning point in our season.
"Our squad is very strong and there is competition for places all over the pitch. But we know there is a big question mark over ourselves when we play Arsenal and that is what we need to take care of now. We proved last season we could beat them when we did so in the League Cup Final and everybody remembers that, no doubt Arsenal do as well.
"We don't want to be remembered for just winning one thing, we want to win more consistently and picking up trophies on a regular basis."
Although totally focused on Everton's match, Jill could be forgiven for keeping an eye on the result of the other semi final as her former club Sunderland are involved against Chelsea. "It's big news in the area that they have reached the semis," she says, "there has been a lot of recognition in the papers. After they won their quarter final against Bristol Academy I was really pleased for them. I coach some of the players at Gateshead Academy and know how much this match means them, especially as it is being played at the Stadium of Light, and - who knows - maybe I'll be lining up against them at Derby!"
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