Feature

Victoria Pelova settles into north London

Victoria Pelova celebrates her debut goal with Stina Blackstenius and the team

We’ve got a lot of new January signings to meet and here’s the first of them: Victoria Pelova!

Our Dutch midfielder tells us about popping the kettle on for Viv, patching things up with Lia Walti and how a couple of Arsenal’s Netherlands alumni told her not to think twice about joining us – so she didn’t!

I’ve only been here a short while, but I’ve honestly loved every minute so far. Viv’s a very good friend of mine that I’ve known through the national team, so while I’ve been waiting to get everything sorted with my house, I’ve been staying over at hers!

It’s felt like home there because I’ve had great company, it’s so warm and we’ve had teammates coming over to visit too. That homely feeling has really helped me to settle in here and feel comfortable after moving country!

It’s funny because we’ve basically been each other’s carers but for very different reasons, so it was a good idea to share a house with her! I was helping Viv because of her injury because she couldn’t do things like make a cup of tea, while she’s been helping me with lots of things and giving me advice because I’m new to life at Arsenal.

Laura Wienroither and Victoria Pelova walk into training

I’ve already made some really good friends in the team too. Laura Wienroither has been picking me up every day for training, so we’ve had a lot of time to really get to know each other. I’m doing this interview in the car right now and Laura is laughing because she’s basically my carer now!

Lia Walti has been giving me a few lifts here and there too. I’ve got to give her some credit as well, especially after we had a little fight in the Arsenal v Ajax game! I can’t believe how lovely she is. She’s such a nice person and we had a joke about our fight together with Kim too!

Before I joined here, I spoke to Danielle van de Donk and she told me it’s such a nice group, but when you really get to know everyone it’s like a family and I can see that already. Sari van Veenendaal said the same too. DvD was one of the first people I told about Arsenal’s interest and straight away she told me I should go for it. She was really helpful and convinced me to make the move.

Victoria Pelova celebrates with Danielle van de Donk whilst playing for the Netherlands

On the pitch, there’s been a lot of new things for me to get used to, but I’m really loving training. I can feel that I’m really improving already, and everyone has been lovely to me too, so I’m honestly really, really happy! The first week was really tough because everyone is so physical and really fast, so that’s taken some getting used to, but now I’m getting into my flow and feeling more comfortable with it.

Kim, for example, is so talented technically, but she’s also such a physical player, I love her playing style. I won my first duel against her last week and I was so proud of myself! It’s a sign of progress because she’s probably the best player I’ve seen in training. I think it’s really beneficial for my development to be training against some of the very best players in the world.

Victoria Pelova and Kim Little smile in training

When I arrived here, I knew it would be a step up and I knew about the quality of Arsenal’s players, but a few have really surprised me with just how good they are. Caitlin Foord is a machine. She’s so unpredictable on the ball and she’s so dangerous in 1v1 situations – I had no idea she was that good! She can go either way, bully you off the ball and can also score so many different types of goals.

For those who have watched me play before, I’m quite versatile and I’m happy to play anywhere because I believe I have the qualities to take up different roles, but I think I’m at my best when I’m starting as a No 6 or No 8. I’m not your typical defensive No 6, but with my qualities offensively I can really help with build-up play and linking the defence to the attack.

Victoria Pelova drives with the ball against Aston Villa

I bring a lot of energy and work rate too, so that makes me suitable for that role and a little further forward too. Especially with how Jonas wants us to play, reacting to every second ball, fighting for duels and putting pressure on the opponent’s first touch.

Training has been great and I've enjoyed showing you a little bit of what I'm about as a player, but now I’m buzzing to really kick on. I just want to help the team in any way possible when I’m called upon and represent this massive club because I’m so proud to be here!

This interview was featured in the official Arsenal programme as we faced Leeds United Women in the FA Cup. You can read a host of other fantastic content by purchasing individual issues of the programme or a seasonal subscription to get every issue through your door. 

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