‘This game showcased who we have coming through’

Arsenal Women academy

Seven academy stars were in action on Wednesday night as we ran out 3-1 winners over Millwall Lionesses in the Continental Tyres Cup.

Joe Montemurro handed four youngsters the opportunity to start - and 16-year-old Ruby Grant repaid his faith with a stunning strike from distance.

We spoke to Montemurro after the final whistle - and this is what he said:

on the first-half performance…

It’s interesting that a team who doesn’t have a shot on target ends up scoring a goal! That’s football and there are a few little things that we can learn from. There were some silly errors and Lia Walti and Pauline must have got the language communication wrong somewhere, but in the end we completed the comeback. We made it a little more difficult than it should have been, but we made some positional adjustments at half-time and we were okay.

on his half-time team talk…

It’s about enthusiasm and sometimes it’s just important that they stay in position. We’re a team that works very much on our positional play and phases of play, so it’s important that they stay in their positions instead of trying to crowd areas. It was more excitement for the young kids taking other people’s spaces that was probably the problem. We fixed a couple of things with our higher phase of play and it worked.

on three goals in five minutes...

The good thing about it is that we probably created another five or six chances in front of goal, so with a little bit more composure it could have been a lot more. The scenario was to get as many young kids playing as possible so that they can understand our style and the way we want to play. To give them opportunities in these environments is very important.

on Ruby Grant scoring her first goal for the club…

She’s a great girl and a real Arsenal fan. She’s come through the academy and I hope tonight showcased the academy girls and what we’ve got coming through. Hopefully we get the opportunity to showcase them a little bit more. 

on what the youngsters can learn from training and playing with the first-team…

It’s fantastic. They can get used to an intensity of football that’s different and I must also commend the senior players for the way that they’ve taken them in over the last three or four weeks. They’ve coached them and really embraced them, so it’s been a real pleasure to work with them. We’re trying to make them understand positional play and the importance of positioning without the ball - and it was nice to see them display that.

on resting key squad players…

We started the process of resting key players before the game against Manchester City. Mathematically after the win against Brighton we knew that we would be on top of the ladder before Christmas, and of course we would have liked to be six points ahead instead of even on points, but we needed to think long term. We needed to rest players like Dominique Bloodworth and Emma Mitchell to make sure that they’re primed and ready to go for the West Ham fixture.

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