Jonas Eidevall has praised our squad's resilience and 'anti-fragility' as we head into the business end of the season.
Speaking ahead of our vital fixture against Manchester United, Eidevall explored how our Gunners have managed to step up in the wake of injury crises and a demanding playing schedule for club and country.
"It's adaptability," he explained. "I think it's an opportunity for players to step up and show their qualities. It's essential to the work we do to prepare players to be ready when opportunities arise, not only between games but also during games.
"This group of players has responded very, very well in tough situations. In tough moments, we stick together. We keep to the plan. We believe in the way that we play and that's going to be just as important, if not more so, here at the end of the season.
"There's a very good book called Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb that explores the theory: if something shakes you but it doesn't break you, it probably will make you stronger. You will become more adaptable to future challenges.
"In a very volatile and chaotic world like professional football, it's really important to be anti-fragile," he continued. "To be able to handle turbulence. The only way to be better at that is by going through it and that's not nice but there are many different ways to do that.
"But we have been adapting very well. I think those experiences together will definitely help us in the future."
After losing both Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema to long-term ACL injuries, our squad were forced to adapt as we entered the new year. After finding a new rhythm during an impressive run of games in March, more injury woes were in store. It was confirmed this week that skipper Kim Little will be out for the remainder of the season.
"It would hurt any team to lose a player like Kim, but we have managed so far during this season to handle the absence of many great football players.
"We need to show that adaptability again, keeping the key principles in the way we play but of course, adapting it to the individuals that now need to play.
"As a coach, you always want more options. We have a lot of quality in our squad and I have a lot of trust and belief in the players that we have. I also believe that's where our focus should be: on what we have and not on what we don't have."
In other squad updates, Lia Walti and Steph Catley are both expected to feature against United, but the match may be just too soon for Caitlin Foord. Our Aussie winger was subbed off in the first half against Manchester City and subsequently missed her international camp.
When asked to speculate as to why our squad has been blighted by so many injuries this season, Eidevall believes there is more than one simple explanation.
"It's a boring answer: it's multifactorial. The injuries we've had are very different. We look internally, of course, and we compare to previous seasons and so on. Load and number of matches played are always the two major components when you look at injuries.
"There's been a lot of talk this season about the congested fixtures in women's football, with major tournaments now happening every summer and very little time for the players to recover. That is something we will need to learn from and do better for the seasons to come, in order to keep the players healthy and on the pitch more."
Beyond the football pitch, our head coach also credited the unity of the entire club, across staff and players, first-team and academy.
"What's even more important is that the connections between people working with the teams have become stronger during the season. I think when we talk about being one club, that starts with people feeling connected, wanting each other's success, and understanding what things we can do to help each other.
"I really think that has gone to another level this year. That's really great to be a part of."
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