Jonas Eidevall held his pre-Manchester City press conference at London Colney on Friday afternoon.
The boss was asked about the latest team news, players returning from the international break, and how he assesses our next WSL opponents.
Here’s everything he had to say:
on team news…
Everybody reported back in today, but it was a little bit of an odd FIFA window because the Asian Olympic qualifiers allowed them to play three games. So, they all reported back in later and they landed early this morning, so obviously they couldn’t be on the pitch today. Tomorrow, we hope we can have more players on the pitch.
on if it’s tricky managing the different international windows…
Yeah, it is, but at the same time with the City game, I think both teams are very much in a similar position. They also have a lot of players who were involved in the Asian Olympic qualifiers, for example. So yes, it’s difficult and it’s not ideal, but I think it’s quite well spread across both teams.
on our form coming into Sunday’s game…
I was pleased with the way we were growing and developing during the last block. We’re still obviously in a process with both Beth and Viv returning from long-term injuries, where they’ve still not fully having managed their return to play process, which is very natural, but it’s still something for us to also consider being in this block here. [I’m] looking forward to facing a good football team in Manchester City.
on supporting players like Beth and Viv from a mental health perspective…
I think it’s a huge part, not only of the game but of everyday life. I think it’s definitely a generational thing to become emotionally literate, to be able to put into words and identify your emotions. Even I see myself as quite young, but I still come from a generation where we didn’t speak as openly about emotions as younger generations do.
I think that’s really helpful, and I think that can help a lot of people, both to understand how they’re feeling and what they’re feeling, but more importantly to get the support. I think that’s so important to understand that probably everyone at points in your life needs support from a mental perspective, so that’s very natural. It’s great when we have role models at the very top that speaks about those situations because I think it can encourage a lot of people that look up to them, to also understand that it’s natural for them to seek help in those situations.
on the Arsenal photocall…
I haven’t seen much reaction online to start with, but I think where we come from, north London, we’re very proud of our community and it is a diverse community. The history of the club, both the Men’s First Team and the Women’s First Team has a very proud history of players coming from diverse backgrounds as well and made the club very proud of that. So, us not having the diversity in the Women’s First team today, of course that’s a problem. I think Women’s Football has a diversity problem in that, especially getting people of colour more involved in football, not only at the top level, but also at the grassroots level. I think that we have to work that but also the FA and other clubs.
on the Lionesses involved in Sunday’s game…
That’s not really on top of my mind, to be honest. I care a lot about Arsenal, I care a lot about Arsenal fans and that’s the priority. Then I think, as a neutral, it’s going to be a great football match because there are two great football teams, and there are a lot of great football players on both teams.
on returning to Meadow Park and potentially closing the gap on the pacesetters…
Our ambition is always to try and win football matches, and that’s not any different today or on Sunday. It’s a long time since we were at Meadow Park now, playing Villa in the final game of last season, and we have always had great experiences at Meadow Park. We’ve got great supporters and a very intimate atmosphere – we really are at that crossroads at the moment where we’re having great experiences at the Emirates.
I understand that it is not quite as easy for the club to just move all our games to the Emirates, because there are a lot of logistics, there is a lot of know-how that needs to transcend into that and we see the trajectory in how we’re doing that, is that we’re playing more and more league games at the Emirates, so I think that’s a natural process and it needs to take a little bit of time, but as always, we look forward to playing in front of our home fans, they’ve been incredible and we know it’s going to be a sell-out on Sunday so are going to try and do out very best.
on the severe weather during Ireland’s game against Albania…
Katie [McCabe]’s fine. That’s football. Sometimes it rains when you play football. Sometimes it’s windy. Sometimes we forget about that when you're at our level and you think that all pitches are almost like golf greens. Not all football pitches around the world are like that. At the end of the day, the referee decides if the pitch is playable or not. If it's not playable, you might have to stop and you have to try and make it playable. So I don't think there’s any controversy at all.
on Katie McCabe’s incredible form…
I think Katie McCabe is a quality player coming into her peak years of playing football. She has a tremendously good left foot that, when put to the right use, can be a really good way of getting points, both with assists and goals. She's been using that lately and that's been really pleasing to see from a number of different positions, both in the national team and at our club team. It's been very impressive from her.
on building the purpose-built stadiums for women’s football clubs…
I think the hard part is what would be a good size for that stadium now? How will that look in five to 10 years time? I think that's where we're at a really difficult but exciting time, in order to try and predict the future. Because if somebody had said five years ago what a good-sized stadium would be for Arsenal Women, I think that would be a completely different answer than what you would say today.
And I think the answers most people would give today will be outdated in five years' time and people will say ’That’s too small’. And maybe then Emirates Stadium is the perfect size for us. So I think it depends all on the club.
The ability to sell out stadiums is a very important component in football because I always think it's a special feeling going into a sold-out stadium - it creates a really good atmosphere and it creates intimacy. I think it becomes easier to drive ticket sales because there becomes scarcity and you need to act early to get your tickets, otherwise, you're gonna miss out.
So I think it’s up to each club to get that decision right in terms of ideal sizes for stadiums to both enable growth and also create the best possible atmosphere, and to be able to entertain partners and so on. It's super important to grow the game. So that's probably great news for Brighton.
on whether Lina Hurtig, Amanda Ilestedt and Lia Walti are all fit for Sunday…
They're all in contention for Sunday. Lina couldn't travel with Sweden because she had an injury that wouldn't have made it possible for her to play any of the two games. So it didn't make sense for her to go. But it doesn't rule her out for this weekend. Amanda did travel but the game on Tuesday came too quickly for her. It still doesn't rule her out for the weekend. That's why she travelled back. In the moment, Lia Walti had to go off for Switzerland but that's not anything that concerns us long-term.
on squad rotation and the challenge of maintaining team chemistry:
The starting point, and this is really important for any manager, has to be what’s best for the team. If the starting point is trying to please all of the players in the squad, that’s never going to be possible. That’s one of the things that, if you ask any manager with a big squad, of course, that’s the problem with it - how you keep everyone motivated for all performances that they have.
I think we work really well with that, the players work really well with that. The benefit is that we have lots of options and lots of competition in the squad, but the decision on which player to play can never be based on niceness or to please anyone either. It has to be based on what’s best for the team and we will have a block now in front of us where we will play a lot of matches.
It’s going to be a tighter turnaround than it was in the first block and that will mean that we’ll need to use the squad in a deeper way than we did in the first block. I’m actually very excited about that because I think we have a lot of qualities in the squad and I’m really looking forward to seeing the players play.
on the team’s ability to get points from difficult situations:
From a mentality perspective, you see the players have been excellent. I think they kept their composure really well and, even if we have been tight for time a couple of times in games, they’ve continued to make good decisions and been able to stack situations upon each other to create a lot of pressure on the opponent. That part has been really good. What I don’t want is for us to be a team that leaves things that late and to depend on those margins because sometimes those margins go your way and sometimes they do not. As a team we need to be able to A) create more, but B) also to capitalise better on what we create earlier in the games to be able to play with a better scoreline more often.
on the importance of stopping the crosses coming in from Man City:
It’s a good reflection on City. Together with Chelsea, they are the two best teams on attacking crosses and they use it quite often as well as a weapon. There are two ways you need to deal with that. One is to stop the number of crosses and to have a good structure in order to do that. Secondly, you need to make sure that you have the right structure and the right qualities in order to deal with that. They have some really strong aerial threats, Man City, but also some good quality on their crossing feet, so you need to have a combination of it. Yes, Amanda is one player who’s very strong at dealing with aerial duels, but we also have others.
on if Manuela Zinsberger is the definitive number one goalkeeper:
No. We don’t have any permanent team selection at Arsenal. Every game is selected on a game-by-game basis. Sabrina, like any other player in Arsenal, focuses on her strengths and what she brings to the team and she tries to do that as well as possible and that gives her the best possible chance of being selected to start.
on how much better Man City are this season:
I think they were really good last Spring. I think you saw them when they beat Chelsea quite comfortably at home. Everybody at that point was starting to talk about them as title contenders and so on. At that point, they came to Meadow Park and we, despite injuries and a really tough playing programme in the Champions League, put in a really strong performance and managed to win that game.
City have been playing really well for a long time and I think they’ve been carrying on doing the same thing as they did last Spring into the new season, which makes a lot of sense because they’ve had a lot of consistency in both the way they play, because they have the same coach, but also because they kept the same players and been able to play with them.
on when Naomi and Kyra are going to be closer to the starting lineup:
Like I said before, this block here is obviously going to provide more opportunities. I think it’s natural and always impossible for you guys, because you don’t see everything behind the closed doors here at London Colney, to say that when you come in new to a team everyone will have a different starting distance for it. With all the players we have in the squad and the two you’re mentioning here, they did really well and will do really well when they get opportunities as well to play. We will have lots of opportunities in this block coming up.
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