West Ham midfielder Esmee de Graaf insists there is 'no reason' her side can't upset Women's Super League champions Arsenal in the FA Cup
West Ham midfielder Esmee de Graaf is hopeful the club can create 'more FA Cup memories' as they attempt to upset Women's Super League champions Arsenal in the fourth round this weekend.
The Dutch star is set to start her first FA Cup game due to the fact she missed all of the Hammers' run to the final last year due to an ACL injury.
And while De Graaf was gutted to miss the journey to Wembley, she revealed how excited she was watching the team's success from the sidelines.
Speaking to the West Ham website, she said: “My injury happened during training last December and I knew straight away that it was bad. I was in so much pain and I went for an MRI. It showed that the ACL was still attached but it needed surgery and I knew I was going to be out for a long time.
“Because of the injury, I missed out on playing in the FA Cup, so I wasn’t involved in any of those matches, which was really sad.
“I was back in Holland doing my rehabbing, so I couldn’t be at the semi-final away to Reading. I was watching all the updates on Twitter with my mum in the kitchen, back at home. That penalty shoot-out was so nerve-wracking! I kept refreshing the page and, when it showed that we had won and Cho so-hyun had scored her penalty, my mum and I went mental!”
“I sat behind the bench and I got goose bumps when the girls walked out and the pyro went off. It really spurred me to get back playing. Of course, we lost, but everyone was so proud. And rightly so. To reach the final in our first professional season was unbelievable.
Arsenal beat West Ham 2-1 in the WSL earlier this season, but Matt Beard's side pushed the Gunners all the way at Meadow Park.
And De Graaf is confident that, despite going in as underdogs, they have a real chance at causing a major upset this weekend, especially given Arsenal are coming off the back of a dismal 4-1 defeat to Chelsea.
“Hopefully we can beat Arsenal and have another memorable journey in the FA Cup," she added.
"The magic of the FA Cup is that you never know. Anything can happen in one game. You see it across men’s and women’s football. In this competition, anyone can beat anyone. Lower league teams can beat Premier League teams and there’s no reason we can’t beat Arsenal.
“They are a big club, they won the league last season and they have amazing players. But we believe in ourselves and we know anything can happen. We want to make more FA Cup memories and I couldn’t think of anything better for my first FA Cup game!”