Press conference

Jonas Eidevall looks ahead to Aston Villa test

Jonas Eidevall

We return to Women's Super League action on Sunday, when making the trip to take on Aston Villa.

Ahead of this weekend's match, Jonas Eidevall has been speaking to the media. Here's what he said in his pre-match press conference:

on if there are any new injuries in the squad…
No, not really - no new ones, which we are thankful for. Leah and Rafa have been able to come in and Lina and Kim are progressing, but I think the Villa game will come a little too early for both.

on the timeline around Kim Little’s return…
I still think before Christmas.

on the impact of having Leah Williamson back…
It’s great - it impacts the environment, both [her] as a person and also as football players, it gives us more competition and it gives us more tools. I think you could see the passes that Leah was playing in the first half against Juventus really adds another dimension to our play. So we’re delighted.

on an increase in attendance at WSL matches and Arsenal playing Chelsea at Emirates Stadium in January…
I think that’s great, both for us and for the league. It’s a very important step in saying how English teams can start being better in Europe as well - each club is growing the league and that’s going to make the league attractive, both from an experience point of view but also from a financial situation, so we can attract more global talent to come here and make the whole league stronger and more competitive. That’s what we all want.

on the importance of player welfare - and how Arsenal have supported Vivianne Miedema…
I think it’s very important. It’s the players’ game and of course we need to have a schedule that allows the players to be able to express themselves. They should definitely be the most important part that the organisations listen to when we’re planning schedules and seeing how we’re going to grow. From the club’s perspective, I think Arsenal as an organisation is very good at taking care of individuals. It has a holistic view to understand that what we do perform on the pitch is impacted on a lot of things. That means we have to take care of everything, both on and off the pitch.

on if he was frustrated the team didn’t take more opportunities in the two recent 1-0 wins…
Yes, I was. I think going forward we need to do that better. Now we sit here with two 1-0 victories, and we’re all happy about that, but in both of these games, in the final minutes, both [opposition] teams have had free-kicks on the side that they haven’t been successful with. But we all know that the more times you let that happen, they will also be successful with that. Then you will sit and question everything. In order for us not to be in that situation, we need to kill the games before. I’m never going to be the type of manager saying ‘we’re winning 1-0 and I don’t want to risk anything’. I want us to continue to play and continue to attack - and I know in the long run it’s better to score the second goal than to only think about defending your lead.

on how he adjusted defensively when without the aerial dominance of Rafaelle Souza at centre half…
You know what? As much as I want Leah and Rafa to always be available for us, what it forced us to really do during this period, was to focus on how the defensive four were working as a unit. Maybe sometimes we’ve gotten away with not [working through] things optimally from a unit perspective, but we have had some individual skills from our defenders that have solved situations which haven’t been tactically perfect, but they’ve been able to solve through game intelligence or physical ability. This period for us, and I’ve been very pleased seeing it, has had a lot of focus on how the defending four worked together with our central midfield as a unit to solve different situations - and not making it about individuals. I believe that has been a really important part of our development and that’s also now important when we get players coming in, like Leah and Rafa, that we keep on having that foundation on how we work as a unit together. We do that with all players coming in and I think we’ll be stronger as a team.

on Lotte Wubben-Moy, what he’s made of her recent performances and how much harder her displays have made that competition for places…
A lot. Lotte has shown that she’s continued to develop as a player, not only for her individual skills but also her leadership skills and the way she can function in that unit. That has been very pleasing to see. When she came on in the second leg against Ajax, I knew how hard she had been working before that game and I also knew that she was going to be ready. Now she has also shown that she can be consistent over a lot of games, where she has been almost forced to re-focus and recover quickly between the games. That’s not easy to do. Every player can play one game at a high level - the hard thing is to do it on a consistent basis. I think Lotte has really proved herself during this period and that has been really pleasing to see.

on Miedema's time off - and if he’s ever given a player a break during the season before…
Good question. Have I done it before? Not really. Have I ever had that situation with players [taking part in] tournaments in the summer and not having time off, with the playing schedule being this tough? Not really either. It’s kind of a new situation. The honest answer - and I think this is a weakness of me and also of many - is that if a player or person working with us doesn’t make us aware of how they are feeling, it’s really tough to take those decisions. Sometimes that’s not a starting point in how you try to think about things and I think that’s what makes it difficult at times when you’re dealing with humans. You have to rely on them telling them the information that you’ll need to take the decision. But then it’s about finding that relationship, that honesty and that transparency that they feel confident enough to share that information with you. That was a long answer to your question but no, I haven’t done it before, and no, I probably wouldn’t have done it had the player not asked.

on Rachel Daly - and if he has any special plans to contain her…
She’s been tremendous. Coming back, it felt like she was scoring everything for a time. Villa are a good team - they have a lot of different threats. Rachel Daly has been phenomenal so far this season, but it’s not only her. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to only [focus] on her. We need to focus on Villa as a whole team in order to deal with them and get the result we want.

on how much Villa have progressed since last season…
I think they were progressing [during] the whole spring. We played very well in that game when we won at home at Boreham Wood in the spring but, before that game, they were a really strong team and were really close to getting points at Chelsea. It went to the last minutes of that game before it was decided. We have massive respect for Aston Villa. We see them as one of the teams developing most in the league and Carla Ward is doing a tremendous job there. We know that they will be motivated, they will be ready for Sunday and we need to match that.

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