Jonas Eidevall held his pre-Aston Villa press conference at London Colney on Friday afternoon.
The boss was asked about the latest team news, what he’s learned from our start to the season, and how he assesses Aston Villa.
Here’s everything he had to say:
on Beth Mead and if she’s ready for Sunday:
In order for squad selection, we have one more training to go. If she goes through that training session, she should be 100 per cent ready for squad selection.
on how much she’s desperate to get out on the pitch again:
She has that lovely energy she plays the game with. She has both her right and left foot with really good attacking qualities, so we all know that Beth Mead is a quality football player, so of course we are looking forward to having her back on the pitch.
on Vivianne Miedema and how helpful it is for Beth and Viv to work on recovery together:
I mean we unfortunately have a group of players that went through the same thing for it. I think though, at the end of the day, you need to deal with your things yourself because, even if it looks on paper that you have the same injury, it’s never exactly the same. There are always differences for it.
It’s like anything going on in your life, there can be similarities, yes, you can help, but at the end of the day everything is going to be unique to you as an individual and things to be tailored towards you as an individual as well, so I try to be very mindful of that, to not treat people with similar situations like a package.
You still need to look at it individually but both of them are very close now to returning to play. With Beth, we hope she can be in the squad for Sunday.
on who has the number one jersey:
We don’t think like that, it’s not a permanent jersey that we stick on one player, not in any position that we have. We try to build so that we have at least two really good players in each position that we have in the squad.
We like to have different qualities on those players so we can use for tactical reasons, but of course, there’s always competition to see which one will be in our best starting 11. It’s the same with the goalkeepers.
on Sabrina D’Angelo’s response to the Manchester United game:
We have to look forward and think about the next action. If we dwell on mistakes, for me, that’s not a winning mentality. You can’t change anything from it. You can learn something from it, it can be a little bit about your positioning and your decision-making. Then you learn and look forward.
Again, everyone has to do that in the team. Sabrina’s not different for that. Then of course I see much more than you guys do because you only see the games. I see the training so I have to base my decisions on everything that we do, not only the minutes that we play matches, even if they are very important for that.
on being back at Emirates Stadium and if there is extra pressure playing there:
We played Chelsea there in January, which I think was a strong performance and we conceded in the last minutes of the game. We beat Bayern Munich 2-0 there in the Champions League quarter-final.
Then we had a draw against Wolfsburg and took them to overtime and were some inches away from playing a Champions League final. So for me, is it a problem for us playing at the Emirates? Not at all.
Am I really happy for us to go back to the Emirates so quickly after what I thought was a disappointing performance against Liverpool? Absolutely. Let’s show the audience another version of ourselves.
on Cloe Lacasse’s late equaliser last Friday and how important it is for momentum:
Inches are important in professional sport and fighting for inches is the foundation to getting success in sport. Every goal we score is important for us so I like the whole setup in that goal to be honest, from how we defended a long ball in behind and our mentality as a team.
We were saying it’s three minutes into overtime. We had a couple of situations where we could’ve been a team that said we were just going to play the ball up long and hope for the best, but we have patience, quality on the ball, and play away pressure to setup a situation that we’re comfortable in.
Then that’s a brilliant individual contribution from Cloe, but the whole team brings the situation to that and for me, that’s really mentally strong, because it’s so easy to just throw the ball away and say ‘Oh, I tried. I tried to play the ball forward.’ But it wasn’t the right moment and football is always about finding the right moment.
Even if it’s just a minute left to play, you still have to have that mental strength and wait for the right moment because you can never force things in football. I really like that about the goal.
on Aston Villa and how they’ve progressed from the Championship to the WSL:
I've only seen Aston Villa as a competitor, of course, here the last two seasons, and they've been a very strong side under Carla Ward, and they have been developing from a strong foundation with them.
I think the growth of a team like Aston Villa is very telling for how competitive this league is starting to become and why I think if all clubs and the league is doing the right thing, it's going to be the leading league globally, in the coming years.
So the competition is really tough to win football matches, tougher than it's ever been in the competition, but as for a league, and for external viewers, I think that is great. And that's what's going to bring this league to be the best in the world.
on what we need to turn around from the Liverpool game to win at Emirates Stadium:
I mean, the biggest disappointment then was to say that I didn't feel that we could energise the crowd enough with the way that we were playing. I think we looked a little bit static when we had the ball, we didn't get them moving enough.
We weren't able to stagger situations on top of each other, I don't think we have more than one or two counter-pressing situations in the whole game. And as a team, when the game becomes more dynamic, we are better. We could see that in the second half against Manchester United.
When we start moving the opponent, then the game starts moving for us and that's really important for us as a team to get that fluidity in the way that we play. So hopefully we can get that against Aston Villa.
on if we can take the differences we made against Manchester United into Sunday:
Every inch matters. Every goal matters. Was the performance against Man United perfect? No, it wasn't. There is still plenty of things there that we need to do better. We've been working hard this week here to try and develop those things and let's go again against Aston Villa. Like that developing and growth mindset, that has to be with us. We're not a finished product. We need to aim for a better tomorrow than today.
on if there has been a physical impact on the players that featured at the World Cup:
I'm very much an all-out, all-in person. When you step in and you train with Arsenal, I demand 100 per cent. There is no room for coming and saying 'Oh, I have a 90 per cent day today' - that's not the environment for you to be here at Arsenal. So when you step in here, you're 100 per cent.
But that also means that more from a mental side of playing a big tournament and getting too little time to reset, we have managed time individually with the players that are staying long in the World Cup and they have been getting complete time off from the training ground. We have done that individually with all eight players who were in the later stages of the World Cup during this period.
And of course, has that been ideal from a team perspective that we haven't been able to keep the group together? No. But I still think that is absolutely vital to now being able to attack the season fully. So we're not feeling like we're going into the season with players being too mentally fatigued and then not being able to cope, and then we were getting forced to give time off.
Now we try to manage it pro-actively instead. And I think that's a better way to do it. In some things, we have also done it in co-operation with national team coaches, like Australia and England, they have been great examples of how we're working together. Also, Sweden. So that has been the approach in that sense. But when you're at Arsenal, it's 100 per cent.
on if players have been able to reach the desired level because of the rest they’ve had:
Yeah, I think in the days leading into Manchester United and the days here now in the week, I really feel I start to see a team here now on reaching good levels. Like I said, I still think we have things to develop, I still think we have higher ceilings to reach, but we have started to be at a good level here now. And that is satisfying to see.
on how much work Beth has done psychologically to cope with the pressure:
I think, and this is probably where elite sport has changed a lot in the last decade, where mental training before was used for a team that was struggling, who said they needed a mental coach because they were under a lot of pressure.
Mental training is an everyday approach to our programme with a holistic approach to both the player and the team. We give our players full mental support every day for it, so it's not just an on-and-off button. Of course, there is pressure representing a club like Arsenal and that's why we need to develop these strengths and qualities over time.
If you don't develop them over time, it's like learning any new skill. If it would be easy and you just would do a Friday session for it, then everybody would do it. Mental training works exactly the same as technical training. We need to spend a lot of time on it, we need to prepare a lot for it, and then we will get a lot of benefits from it if we have a good level of training, so we work the same with mental training. I think and I hope that Beth feels supported that way from the club.
on how far behind Viv is fitness-wise:
Viv has returned to team training, which is really nice. So obviously, the next step from team training is to start being involved in playing games. Whether that's friendly games, whether that's internal games behind closed doors and so on, that's a different question. But that's the next step. And from then on, obviously, she's not miles away from being able to be selected for the squad.
on if there are any other injury concerns:
No-one is ruled out. We have one or two minor injuries, but they're all players who are in contention for Sunday. Nothing else.
on what he made of Villa’s first two games:
I think that comes down a little bit to personnel as well. They haven't had the same personnel available in their central midfield as they had for the majority of last season. I see a lot of the same things in a really strong Aston Villa side, as I did last season. So I expect them to come to the Emirates and believe in their model and their identity. I think it's going to be an exciting game. Two teams who really want to play football.
on Leah Williamson’s fitness and the stage she’s at:
Leah’s unfortunately not that close to playing, even if she's progressing very well. She's out on the pitch, which is really pleasing. And that's, of course, a really important stage in returning to play.
But from there, it starts with doing more basic ball work to progressing with more complex moving patterns and then starting to get integrated into team training. With Leah, it's always been that there's no way she's going to return before Christmas. She is an after-Christmas player.
In terms of what month after Christmas, it's impossible to predict that at the moment. But to save you guys asking every week, before Christmas? No.
on what he learned from May’s game against Villa at Meadow Park:
I've learned things every time we've played Villa, to be honest. I think that game at Meadow Park was a very odd game for us. We were totally depleted, as a squad, as a group. We had been fighting so hard. We just didn't have any energy at all.
I think Villa played a good game, but we're at a totally different stage now with energy and motivation going into this season. I see this being a completely different game.
on how important it is to play more games at Emirates Stadium:
Such an important part of how we want to grow is to make Emirates Stadium our fortress, and doing that together with the audience. That's not going to be achieved only by the team - that has to be the team and fans in co-operation. They need to live the moments together, they need to energise each other.
It goes both ways for us to create that bond, and we need to transform what we have at Borehamwood onto the Emirates. How we do that is playing more often at Emirates, creating those situations more often so that we get better at it.
I think this is a really strong moment where we're playing back-to-back league games at the Emirates. I think if you go back three or four years and looked at playing at the major stadiums, it was a one-off occasion. It was done around Europe, but it was sort of these 'one time per season' kind of things. Give away a lot of tickets and try to get some attendances. And then the week after, what happened then with attendances? Where was the next game being played a week after?
Very few clubs have managed to do this, week by week, back to back. If we want to talk sustainability with attendance figures, if we want to talk sustainability about maybe moving permanently to the Emirates, that's what we need to show - as a team, but also with our fans, to say that we can have good attendance figures back-to-back at Emirates Stadium.
Week in, week out - that's where we need to get to and that's when the Emirates can become a real strength for the women's team. We're on that journey. We're not fully there yet, but we're on that journey. And that makes me extremely proud and extremely optimistic about the future.
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