The scale of squad injuries this season triggered a tactical evolution, Jonas Eidevall reflected in his pre-Chelsea press conference.
As new arrivals have entered the fold and existing players have taken on new roles within the team, it became necessary to branch out and adapt in the wake of key absences.
“[We cannot] forget that there is an individual,” said Eidevall. “There is a person behind every injury and we need to take care and support that person as excellently as we can.
“We also need to find solutions and be flexible in the way that we think about the best solution for the team. Do we need to try another formation? If this player comes into play, how do we best adapt to that player's qualities?
“I think that has been the challenge: to constantly generate - not necessarily new ideas - but new ways of thinking. To find new ways to optimise the way we play in order to win football matches.”
When asked about how Eidevall and his coaching staff found these solutions, our head coach provided a number of explanations
“I think one of the most important times for us this season was in January when the Brighton game got called off. We got quite a good time between games and we used our time to say, 'Okay, let's train in a different formation. Let's play with a back three.'
“We weren’t going to use it in the next game but we needed to understand the main principles. The reason why we would like to play with another formation is so we can change between games or during games and so on. I think investing that time has now got us to a point where we can change formations much easier.”
“Second thing is that you need other people's input if you're going to get new ideas. I don't believe that I'm just going to go on a walk on my own and generate all these great ideas in my head.
"When we went to the Adidas training camp in Germany, they had a really good setup there with a big table that everyone could fit around. So when we built our new building for the women's team at Colney, we said, ‘Let's make this more like the Adidas set up.'
“We have generated a lot of ideas from the whole technical team around that big table. It has been really, really nice working with a group of people that can have that input. We can have that dialogue. It helps a lot when you build that feeling that we're in this together.”
Our squad was dealt yet another injury blow on Wednesday evening as Lia Walti was caught in a crunching tackle and stretchered off the field against Everton. Our 30-year-old defensive midfielder recently signed a new deal with the club but she will now spend the rest of the campaign on the sidelines.
“She's out for the season for us, but the initial examination is that it's not too bad,” said Eidevall. “It's not a multiple months injury, so she should be able to recover well in time before the World Cup, which is, of course, very, very important for her as a player.
“I'm very happy for her that it wasn't more serious. I was afraid it could be so that was a relief. But unfortunately, she can't be on the pitch any more for Arsenal this season.”
Considering the sheer number of medical setbacks, Eidevall was then asked whether he considered this one of the toughest seasons of his coaching career.
“Yeah, I think that's fair to say. Both because it is tough when players get injured because you feel so much for them, for what they’ll miss.
“But also to constantly have to come up with new solutions and prepare new ways. It definitely has been [tough]. But when you're in the middle of it, you just have to keep going one game at a time. Two more games and then we're done.”
To hear more from Eidevall, click play on the video above.
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