• Alanna Kennedy in action against Arsenal for Tottenham. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
At a time when north London bragging rights belong Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham in their age-old rivalry with Arsenal, Matildas utility Alanna Kennedy is looking to help Spurs close a gaping gap on the Gunners in the FA Women’s Super League.
Dave Lewis

SBS The World Game
12 Dec 2020 - 2:48 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2020 - 2:48 PM

Fortunes are flipped in the women’s game, with Joe Montemurro’s Gunners team sitting second to Tottenham’s third-bottom - a whopping 13 points between them.

Arsenal have already beaten Spurs three times this season, 4-0 and 6-1 in the league, and on penalties in the cup.

Conversely, there’s an 11-point gap in the Premier League, with Spurs top and Arsenal languishing in 15th after last week’s 2-0 loss to Mourinho’s men.

Under new coach Rehanne Skinner, Spurs have picked up their first win of the campaign against Brighton, and Kennedy - on loan for the season - insists the women’s team are intent on living up to the hallowed name of the club.

“When you look at the history and tradition that Tottenham have we need to make sure we’re living up to that,” she said.

“(Regarding the north London rivalry) I wouldn’t mind flipping it around so both Spurs teams are doing well.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve come in and there’s been a definite Spurs way of playing (running throughout the club).

“It’s more the philosophy and values around the club that are very strong.

“We had a tough start to the season in terms of the run of games we had but we should have got more from those matches, and that’s why we’ve been so disappointed.”

Last month’s sacking of the coaching tag-team of Karen Hills and Juan Amoros drew a line under that disastrous start, with Kennedy explaining: “The intention behind the change is to provide a bit of a fresh start and to give us the best opportunity to be at our best.

“I feel like there’s been a positive change and we’re in a good position now to pick up more points, and perform to our potential a little bit more.

“The start to the season didn’t reflect too well for us ... we’ve embraced the change while at the same time it’s always disappointing to see managers go.

“But we’re adapting pretty well, we’re turning a page and very happy with that first win. The monkey’s off our back now.”

September’s arrival of USWNT star striker Alex Morgan on a short-term loan underlined Spurs’ intent to join the WSL elite.

But it’s been a slow burn for the FIFA Women’s World Cup winner, who’s been hampered by a knee injury.

“When you sign a big player like her that investment shows the determination is there to make the team better and to grow this team,” added Kennedy.

A defender for her country, but a midfielder at club level, Kennedy, 25, is on loan for the season from NWSL club Orlando Pride, with an option to make the move permanent.

There’s no doubt which role she prefers.

“I’ve played more as a holding midfielder here as I often did with Orlando, and it’s a position where I can use my attributes on the ball a lot more,” she explained.

“It’s my preferred position - I enjoy being more involved.

“We’ve always had a bit of a need for players at the back with the national team and from a younger age that’s where I’ve played.

“I think being good in the air and stuff has molded me into a defender.

“We have a few players who can fill different roles and if playing centre back is where they need me then it’s a matter fitting in with what’s required.

“I never really wanted to be a central defender but I’ve sort of embraced that role with the Matildas, and adapted to the role.

“But at club level, I want to be able to enjoy my career. It doesn’t last long and I’m happiest playing in midfield.”

Kennedy is itching to return to international action after a nine-month hiatus in the face of coronavirus restrictions.

“We need as much time together as we can now,” she added. “Having so many of us in Europe is good. 

“The quality of the football here in England is impressive.

“In the US it’s high tempo and transitional whereas here it’s a bit more about slowing it down and controlling the game a bit more.

“I would say the football style is just that five percent better.”