Press conference

Beattie: "We'll fight to the end of the season"

Jen Beattie in the pre-match press conference

Jen Beattie relishes the occasion of big matches in the UEFA Women's Champions League, speaking ahead of our semi-final against Wolfsburg on Sunday afternoon.

Our Scottish centre-back, who recently made her 150th appearance for the club, was quizzed on Leah Williamson's injury, what our supporters bring, and how much has changed since she faced Wolfsburg in the Champions League semi-final ten years ago.

Here is everything Jen had to say at the pre-match press conference:

on Leah Williamson’s injury…

I mean, she's gutted obviously, as we all are. To have Kim's injury and Leah's following in quite as quick succession is not great for any team, especially at this point in the season. But that's what teams are for. She knows that she has all the support in the world. She's gutted, she's devastated but everyone will rally around her. She knows that she's got all the support and resources that she needs at Arsenal.

on what the mood was like at half-time against Manchester United…

I think it was still very optimistic. Even though we’d conceded at a really unfortunate time, we still well and truly believed that we were in the game. We know that when we look around the dressing room, there's a real trust within players that no matter who's on the pitch, we can go and get a result. That was no different on Wednesday night and that won't be any different tomorrow.

on difficult it was to play after seeing a teammate injured like that…

It's horrible. In training, there's always an opportunity to stop and check in but in match situations, it's totally different. You have to move on because you’re still fighting for a result. I was still warming up. I was well aware of what was going on, so I was trying to nip back into the dressing room and see if she was okay. 

Just from a human perspective. It's never nice to see anyone in pain or to see a stretcher come onto the pitch, so it's just an automatic 'Are they okay?’. That kind of human instinct kicks in for anyone when you just want your mate to be okay. I think that's a credit to the team that we all rallied around her straightaway.

on the World Cup around the corner…

It's always difficult. She had an unbelievable year last year: getting the captaincy for England and playing the way she did with that weight on her shoulders. That leadership that she showed at such an early age with so much pressure. And then to go on and win [the Euros] with the Lionesses was an unbelievable achievement.

So of course, she would have wanted to go into this World Cup with that momentum and that energy. She's gutted but that's sport. It's part and parcel. It's one of the most awful and heartbreaking things about it. But again, she has an unbelievable head on her shoulders and she's already looking at it pretty logically, which is a huge credit to her and the people she has around her.

on what the team will miss from Leah…

I think just her mentality, and her ability to communicate in pressured situations. That shows a lot in captains, we see that a lot with Kim and Leah is definitely showing so much of that from her England situation and coming into Arsenal as well. When Kim got injured, Leah stepped up straightaway in the midfield role. 

But it's the vocal energy for me. It's the pressure situations, it's her ability to provide solutions in really, really high-pressure situations. I think that is what we'll miss the most. The way Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, with their big injuries, have shown the impact that they can still have off the pitch while still being injured. I have no doubt that Leah will follow suit and she'll still have a big impact for us off the pitch.

on the prevalence of ACL injuries in the women’s game…

It's a really difficult one. I think there are so many conversations and good conversations that are being had behind the scenes. But I definitely think that more needs to be done in terms of research, but it's one of those long-term projects that we might not see the benefits of right now but hopefully, the next generation will. But it's the Football Associations, it's the governing bodies that need to really step off and put the investment where that's needed. 

Because it is really difficult we've seen four across two seasons and it's never one you want to see at any club, let alone Arsenal. So it's been difficult, but I think I do generally think it's heading in the right direction. There are conversations being had, but there's definitely room for improvement.

on how far the character of our squad can take us in the midst of injuries...

As far as we can hope. It's a credit to the players that have stepped up and the mentality and the characters that we have in the dressing room. I think whenever anyone's got injured, the players that have stepped in just show the depth that we have as a squad. 

Of course, it's the business end of the season and we want everyone to be fully fit and flying, but we have to just go for it. United was another great example of that - okay, we didn't get the result, but we rallied around each other. And you know, we'll always fight to the end of the season and get as much as we can out of it.

on playing a UWCL semi-final against Wolfsburg exactly ten years ago…

Yeah, it's crazy. I think 10 years is a lot of time for progression to be made in the women's game. I think it was Arsenal that put the tweet out comparing the two games and the two attendances and just the scale of the game. I think for me, I was just a kid back then, so it was always just exciting playing in the Champions League. But now the feeling of how special it is to play in the Champions League has just accelerated beyond imagination.

The exposure that the game has now gone above and beyond any expectation I had as a kid going into that game. So it's just a pleasure to still be a part of it, to be honest, and to still be at Arsenal and be able to experience these big games. I love it. I enjoy the pressure of it. I love these big games, and they're what any player would want to be involved with. I’m very happy to still be here.

on how she’s changed over that time…

I'm probably much more relaxed when comes to it. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing! But I enjoy it now more than ever. I was always quite a nervous kid playing in big games. When I was a kid, I was playing with the likes of Rachel Yankey and Jayne Ludlow, and coming to these big stadiums - it was kind of overwhelming.

Don't get me wrong, it still is overwhelming coming to big places like this, but I think I enjoy it now more than ever. That's probably the biggest difference.

on what she would say to the supporters ahead of tomorrow…

Thank you for everything so far. They've definitely been incredible so far for us, giving us all the support - not just this season, but every season leading up to now. I think that the Emirates Stadium attendances have shown that massively: this Wolfsburg home game, we’ve sold beyond 45,000 tickets already, which is not just a credit to the club, but a huge credit to the fans coming and supporting us. 

Away fans are even more exciting when they come and travel, so I appreciate everything that they've done for us so far. I can't wait to hear them cheer us on tomorrow night.

on playing as part of a back three…

I think it's used in different ways, depending on what kind of situation we're in. I would take any role, I will take any opportunity to get on the pitch and have a role within the team. If you see the value in that, then I'm more than happy to do it to the best of my ability and give to the team whenever I can. 

It's definitely a good thing to have a different dynamic and change within a team because otherwise, we potentially become predictable. And thankfully, we have the players across the whole pitch to be able to do that and to be able to change it whatever situation we're in every game. 

See Full List

Fixtures & Results

UEFA Champions League
Ticket Info