RACHEL FURNESS still believes Reading can achieve a top four finish, despite their poor recent form.
The Royals have won none of their past five matches in league and cup either side of Christmas, including a 4-0 Conti Cup quarter-final defeat at Chelsea last time out.
In the league, Reading are winless since November and have slipped down to fifth, now seven points off fourth, where they finished last season.
And things look set to get no easier this weekend when title-chasing Arsenal come to Adams Park, having already thrashed Reading 6-0 in the reverse fixture back in October.
“We hold our hands up, we were all very disappointed with that (6-0) result,” midfielder Furness told The Wokingham Paper.
“We have had a few weeks to reflect on that and we’ve had a good couple of weeks in preparation for Arsenal during the international break.
“I’d say we’re in a better way than what we were when we played them last time. We’re focusing on ourselves and gettings things right that we’ve been working on in training.
“We don’t want that to happen again when we face them on Sunday.”
She added: “Arsenal have proven this season that they’re title contenders.
“They’ve been rolling teams over throughout the season so they’ve definitely got to be up there.
“They were frightening when we went up against them last time so we know we’re going to come up against a very tough team and a very well-drilled team.”
Following on from the Arsenal game, five of Reading’s following six league matches will be against sides currently below them, two of which will be played at Madejski Stadium.
And Northern Ireland international Furness believes that there is still hope of closing the seven-point gap to
Birmingham to achieve the top four finish which was the target at the start of the campaign.
“We are aiming for a better second half of the season,” she said.
“We didn’t pick up some of the points that maybe we should’ve done in the first half of the season, against teams from the bottom half of the table.
“We’ve just got to focus on going into every game, preparing right and try to get three points and hope that other teams slip up.
“You’ve got to look at the points difference but personally I wouldn’t write fourth off.
“I think we’ve got to still try and aim for that and push ourselves, hope that teams slip up and hope that we get results too to match that so we can push up the table.”
She added: “We know we’re good enough.
“You can say we’re going through a little bit of a rut at the minute, but we’re just trying to pick each other up and hopefully the results will start coming.”