Impetus’ Kris Goman was in Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall‘s media conference ahead of today’s game with Reading. She came across a man fully focused on the challenge of Reading amidst a defensive injury crisis (16/10/22).
Above: Arsenal’s Jonas Eidevall speaking to the media. Photo: Arsenal WFC.
Jonas Eidevall addressed his team’s injury concerns ahead of today’s clash with Reading, with the situation in defence becoming sufficiently challenging as potentially leading to players having to be called back from loan deals elsewhere.
Two centre-backs, Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza are unavailable though injury. It’s been confirmed that Rafaelle’s injury is a metatarsal fracture but there was no such clarity on Leah Williamson other than Eidevall saying he expected it to be several weeks and that they would have to wait for further assessment by the consultants before we could put a more exact timeframe on it.
Eidevall did say he didn’t think surgery would be required but was quite adamant that Williamson would not be available to play for England during the November international window. The Lionesses’ captain was photographed at the National Television Awards during the week with a protective boot on her right foot and a dress shoe on her left.
Asked if the present situation could be potentially similar to a spell of injuries in defence last season, Eidevall reflected that ultimately, his focus is on fielding the best team available to him and getting them to perform to the best of their abilities.
“We want to be 100% and we want to be fearless in our approach and we want to put the team first. None of that changes if we have one, two, three, four injuries or we have other unavailable players. Then it’s about always finding ways to play our best together as a team and that might change with the personnel that we have available.
“That doesn’t mean we can play exactly the same way with every one of our players that are on the team as they have different strengths and different weaknesses. If I learned something from that period last year, it was to see that when we are playing with different players, we might need to tweak some of our different priorities in order to be smart and play into each player’s strengths instead of to their weaknesses.”
Eidevall was asked if there was a recall option for existing players on loan to cover the holes at the back, with Anna Patten at Aston Villa a possibility. It seems it’s not as simple as that.
“No, it’s not the whole season no matter what happens but I don’t think there is a recall option before the transfer window opens. You can’t move professional players back and forth between different clubs when the transfer window is closed. That would be the same for all our players. It would be when the next transfer window opens.”
Brazilian Gio Quieroz’s loan to Everton and Eidevall’s long-term vision for her was also discussed. He was specifically asked about how much the loan was about her international ambitions and whether Arsenal might have preferred to keep her.
The Gunners’ head coach outlined how she was still a young player but has played a lot of “first-team football”, particularly in Spain and how, “I didn’t want her to take a step back in this stage of her career right now in not playing minutes and we wanted her to do that at the highest level possible and to get accustomed to living in England and playing in the league so I think Everton was a very good fit.” He said that the minutes he’s seen her play have been very pleasing and he’d evaluate, week by week and make a decision in the winter if she was to come back or play the full season at Everton.
The Arsenal squad is made up of many national team players who were busy over the international break. Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord saw two good wins with Australia over South Africa and Denmark. Beth Mead was a key player in the England win over the USWNT and the draw with the Czech Republic. Noelle Maritz and Lia Walti qualified with Switzerland for the World Cup Finals with a last-minute win over Wales and Katie McCabe led Ireland to victory over Kim Little and Jen Beattie’s Scotland, sealing their first appearance in the World Cup Finals.
Coming back from an international period into club football, especially with so few WSL matches being played this season is an issue, as these players have, in recent months almost spent more time with their national sides than clubs. I asked Eidevall about the potential for lost momentum.
“It can be challenging of course because we have now to reconnect again with the group, we have to find our foundation and identity again. Not only that, we have not been together for long. Also, players have been in different cultures and different environments, and of course, now they need to refocus back to our group again so it’s really important we have two days here, Friday and Saturday in order to build for the Sunday game.”
Focusing specifically on today’s game with Reading, it was clear Eidevall was not taking the match lightly and he was fully focused on the task ahead. Reading are yet to record a win and are sitting at the bottom of the table although they’re only two matches in. He was asked if he’d seen any kind of promise in their performances so far.
“Yeah, I think it’s a hard-working team. We saw last season that they had a tough start and they were one of the better performing teams towards the end, once they got going. They won a lot of games in a row. It’s an opposition that we have massive respect for and we prepare like it’s our most important game, which is our next.
“I think that’s the constant challenge to prepare for every game and be 100% and be able to do all the work and preparation. You learn that as a team as you’re getting more mature, it’s about getting those processes right and Reading is no different from that. We know that every game in this league, especially the away games can be tough if we don’t go about it the right way so we need to focus on what we’re going to do.
It’s the first game back from the international break and if we think the game’s going to be easy by any means then we’re making trouble for ourselves and we should always give our very best, 100% and that’s my intention that we give that for Sunday as well.”
The games are coming thick and fast now for Arsenal with an away Champions League tie against holders Olympique Lyonnais on Wednesday. Yet, Eidevall was clear that the focus is all on today. None of his players’ minutes will be managed with an eye on the trip to France.
“Zero percent. It’s all about Reading.”