Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro has insisted that the upcoming North London derby between them and Tottenham can be a “showcase” for women’s football.
The Gunners have historically been the dominant force domestically and remain the only English club to have lifted the Women’s Champions League, doing so in 2007.
However, Arsenal head into the derby clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium sitting three points behind third-placed Manchester United, who occupy the last Champions League qualifying spot.
A new WSL broadcast deal was announced by the Football Association on Monday that will see matches shown on Sky Sports and the BBC over the next three seasons. The PA news agency understands the deal is worth around £8million per season.
Montemurro believes a derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium can be a good advert for the WSL but stressed there was now a “responsibility” to maintain high standards in the competition.
“I think it’s now an opportunity given to us to showcase the game, but now it’s the responsibility to make that product viable and make that product something that people want,” he said.
“I think if we’re talking about image, if we’re talking about television, then people will look at the stadia and the detail of how we present the game is going to be crucial.
“Again, that’s the responsibility for the clubs too, to make sure the stadiums are of high quality, to make sure the pitches are of high quality so quality players can play good football and teams that want to play good football can showcase that.
“So it is a responsibility and let’s not shy away from the fact that a lot of games have been called off because of the sub-standard facilities that have been on show.”
On Spurs he added: “I think all credit to Tottenham, they’ve done a very good job in recruiting, they’ve done a very good job for a team that has been in the WSL for a couple of years now and they’re really growing as a force.”
Tottenham go into the game without a win in their last six matches, suffering defeats to Chelsea, Aston Villa, Everton and Brighton before draws against Reading and Bristol City.
“It is about approaching every game with the intent to get points,” Spurs boss Rehanne Skinner said.
“That’s how we have to go between now and the end of the season. Whether it is in the stadium or our regular home ground, we have to approach in the same way to get points out of the game, that is our focus right now.”
Manchester City host Reading, with manager Gareth Taylor keen to avoid conceding more ground to Chelsea, who currently top the WSL table and sit just two points ahead of City.
“We want to take this all the way,” said Taylor. “We want to be in a position where, when we do encounter that Chelsea game, everything is still on the line.
“I think we’ve got two really important games before, in terms of Reading and then Spurs away, and then the international break, which brings its own difficulties.
“But it’s a game-by-game basis and we want to be in the hat, we want to make sure we’re there. We’ve worked tremendously hard to get to this point and we don’t want to throw it away now.”
Manchester United, meanwhile, will play at Old Trafford for the first time when they welcome West Ham on Saturday.
“As a club it’s a big step,” said manager Casey Stoney. “For me as a coach it is green grass, white lines and two goals and I’m more interested in getting a win.
“But for the players it is a fantastic moment, to be able to step out at Old Trafford and play. But we need a performance to make sure we win, to remember it by.”
Elsewhere, Chelsea look to extend their advantage at the top of the league when they host Aston Villa on Sunday, while Birmingham will be hoping to end a winless run stretching back to November against Bristol City.