February 3, 2023

We return to Women’s Super League action on Sunday, when we make the journey to take on Aston Villa.

Before this weekend’s game, Jonas Eidevall spoke to the media. Here’s every word from his pre-match press conference:

whether there are new injuries in the team…
No, not really – not a new one, which we’re thankful for. Leah and Rafa have been able to fill in and Lina and Kim are making progress, but I think the game against Villa will come a little too early for both of them.

on the timeline surrounding Kim Little’s return…
I think before Christmas.

on the impact of having Leah Williamson back…
It’s great – it impacts the environment, both [her] as a person and also as footballers it gives us more competition and it gives us more tools. I think you could see that the passes Leah played against Juventus in the first half really added an extra dimension to our game. So we are delighted.

about an increase in attendance at WSL matches and Arsenal playing Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in January…
I think that’s great, both for us and for the league. It’s a very important step to say how English teams can get better in Europe too – every club is growing the league and that will make the league attractive both from an experiential point of view and a financial point of view, so we can attract more global talent to come here and make the whole competition stronger and more competitive. That’s what we all want.

about the importance of player wellbeing – and how Arsenal supported Vivianne Miedema…
I think it’s very important. It’s the players’ game and of course we need to have a schedule for the players to express themselves. They should definitely be the most important part that the organizations listen to as we plan schedules and see how we’re going to grow. From the club’s perspective I think Arsenal as an organization are very good at looking after individuals. It takes a holistic view to understand that what we do on the pitch affects many things. That means we have to take care of everything, both on and off the pitch.

if he was frustrated, the team didn’t take more chances in the two recent 1-0 wins…
Yes I was. I think we should do better in the future. Now we’re here with two 1-0 wins and we’re all happy about that, but in both games, in the last minutes, both [opposition] teams have been awarded free kicks on the side they were unsuccessful in. But we all know that the more you let that happen, the more they will be successful at it. Then you sit down and ask yourself everything. To make sure we’re not in that situation, we need to kill the games sooner. I will never be the type of manager who says ‘we win 1-0 and I don’t want to risk anything’. I want us to keep playing and keep attacking – and I know in the long run it’s better to score the second goal than just thinking about defending your lead.

about how he adapted defensively without the aerial dominance of Rafaelle Souza in the middle half…
You know what? As much as I want Leah and Rafa to be available to us at all times, what really forced us during this period was to focus on how the defensive four worked as a unit. Maybe we got away with it sometimes [working through] things are optimal from a unit perspective, but we’ve had some individual skills from our defenders who have solved situations that weren’t tactically perfect, but were able to solve them through game intelligence or physical skill. This period for us, and I’m very happy to see that, has had a lot of focus on how the defensive four worked together with our central midfield as a unit to solve different situations – and not make it about individuals. I believe that’s been a really important part of our development and that’s important now as we bring players in, like Leah and Rafa, that we continue to have that foundation for how we work together as a unit. We do that with all the players that come in and I think we will be stronger as a team.

about Lotte Wubben-Moy, what he has made of her recent performances and how much more difficult her performances have made the battle for places…
A lot. Lotte has shown that she continues to develop as a player, not only through her individual skills but also through her leadership qualities and the way she can function in that unit. That was very nice to see. When she came on in the second leg against Ajax, I knew how hard she had worked for that match and I also knew she would be ready. Now she has also shown that she can be consistent in many games, almost forcing her to refocus and recover quickly between games. That’s not easy to do. Each player can play one game at a high level – the hardest part is doing it on a consistent basis. I think Lotte has really proven herself during this period and that is very nice to see.

on Miedema’s free time – and if he ever gave a player a break in the previous season…
Good question. Have I done it before? Not really. Have I ever had that situation with players [taking part in] tournaments in the summer and have no free time, while the schedule is so heavy? Not really either. It’s kind of a new situation. The honest answer – and I think this is a weakness of mine and also of many – is that if a player or person who works with us doesn’t make us aware of how they feel, it’s very difficult to make those decisions. Sometimes that’s not a starting point in how you try to think about things and I think that sometimes makes it difficult when you’re dealing with people. You should trust them to give them the information you need to make the decision. But then it’s about finding that relationship, that honesty and that transparency so that they feel confident enough to share that information with you. That was a long answer to your question, but no, I haven’t done it before, and no, I probably wouldn’t have if the player hadn’t asked.

about Rachel Daly – and if he has special plans to keep her down…
She’s been great. When she came back, it felt like she scored everything for a while. Villa are a good team – they have a lot of different threats. Rachel Daly has been phenomenal so far this season, but it’s not just her. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to be alone [focus] on her. We need to focus on Villa as a whole team to deal with them and get the desired result.

about how much progress Villa has made since last season…
I think they made progress [during] all spring. We played really well in that game when we won at home at Boreham Wood in the spring, but before that game they were a really strong team and were very close to taking points at Chelsea. It took until the last minutes of that game before it was decided. We have tremendous respect for Aston Villa. We see them as one of the most developing teams in the league and Carla Ward is doing a great job there. We know they will be motivated, they will be ready for Sunday and we need to match that.

Copyright 2022 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotes from this article is granted provided www.arsenal.com is cited as the source.

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