Just under one year ago Arsenal's diminutive striker, Ellen Maggs, was an uneart
Just under one year ago Arsenal's diminutive striker, Ellen Maggs, was an unearthed talent barely known beyond the confines of Highbury...
Then came her scintillating performance in the Community Shield against Fulham, where her two spectacular strikes, although not enough to avoid defeat, announced the arrival of the Gunners striker as a major force.
A month later Maggs was turning heads around the world with her performances in the inaugural Under-19 World Championships in Canada and she looked set to take the National Division by storm.
Injury, however, led to a stop start season and Maggs did not quite reach her potential. Her season finished on a high note, though, when she was called up to the England senior squad and then made her debut in the tour of North America last month. But she has returned to these shores to the news that Arsenal stalwart and strike partner Angela Banks is retiring and Ayshea Martyn has joined Bristol Rovers.
That leaves Maggs as the senior striker at Highbury and it is time that the youngster who has bags of potential finally stood up.
"It didn't seem too long ago that I didn't even think I was going to play but I had my chance this season. I didn't do too well with my injury, though, that didn't help. But I am hoping to do a bit better this season and am working hard now and will do through pre-season to do that," said Maggs.
"I don't know what Vic [Akers, the Arsenal manager] is planning to do with bringing strikers in but we have got Alex Scott who I have played with all the way through [the Arsenal youth set-up] and is the best person I play up front with, my favourite strike partner. So hopefully we can both get a chance this season and, yes, I will be the senior striker."
And Maggs believes that the added burden of being Arsenal's main striker will not lead to more pressure being piled on her young, small shoulders.
"To be honest everybody still looks at me as a kid, I am lucky like that. I am 20 now but I don't think anyone realises that, so hopefully there will not be too much pressure and I will be able to get on with what I love doing."
But Maggs is fully aware that there will be expectancy on the Gunners to re-establish themselves as the top women's side in the country, in what was a very disappointing season for Vic Aker's side.
Maggs said: "We started off really well [last season]. In our first three games we scored 18 goals and we were on fire but you can see from our keeper [Emma Byrne] winning player of the season how our season went from then onwards. It was our first season in 12 years we haven't won anything so we are hoping we can bring it all back."
And Maggs will surely be a pivotal figure if Arsenal manage to overturn the current dominance of their West London rivals, Fulham. If she plays to her potential on a consistent basis then the Gunners have every chance and Maggs is looking to improve on last year.
"In all competitions I got 12 goals in 28 games but it was only five in the league. To be honest I have never been the greatest goal scorer, that is not my strong point but I wasn't too disappointed with my season. I think that I can do better, though, and hopefully will this season."
And she was quick to point out that she lays on more than she scores. "I am the provider!!"
However, the women's game is getting more and more competitive every year and Maggs realises that the threat to the Gunners is no longer just from West London, there are a number of teams that will contest the top spot next season.
"People have been saying for the last couple of years that the other teams are getting better and it is not all about Arsenal and Fulham anymore," said Maggs.
"You can see by us finishing third that Donnie [Doncaster Belles] have still got a say in everything and Charlton are signing good players and are going to have a say in what happens this season. And with Julie Chipchase going to Leeds, they are going to be a strong side so there are at least five or six teams in it now."
However, if Ellen Maggs finds her form this season, it would give Arsenal an undoubted edge in the race for the National Division crown. But it is time for Maggs to make her mark. As they say, 'will the real Ellen Maggs please stand up.'
by Ben Rice