Impetus’ Kris Goman was in Arsenal’s media conference ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash with FC Zürich. She heard from Friida Maanum on her current form, and head coach Jonas Eidevall about where last week’s win in Lyon puts the Gunners in the race to win the competition this year (27/10/22).
Above: Arsenal’s Friida Maanum (left) is in great form for the North London side and loving life at the club. Photo: The Guardian.
After demolishing Olympique Lyonnais 5-1 away last week, Arsenal get to play a Champions League match at home against FC Zürich at the Emirates Stadium.
With interest in women’s football at an all-time high, the Gunners are expecting a decent crowd and Jonas Eidevall’s in-form team, currently on a run of 12 successive wins in the WSL, are sure to put on a show as they look to continue their success against the Swiss side.
In the last two matches, Frida Maanum started in the place of Viviane Miedema, benching the Dutch superstar for her 150th game for Arsenal. She’s also managed to score a goal in each of these last two matches proving Eidevall’s decision to be a good one.
The Norwegian international joined Eidevall at the media conference looking ahead to the Champions League tie. Maanum outlined how she’s enjoying her football at the moment.
”Yeah, I am. I’m really happy to be here at Arsenal. Also, to get game time which I’ve waited for a long time now.” Eidevall has shown trust in her the last couple of games and she’s repaid that faith. “Yeah, both against Lyon and Liverpool. When you’re not playing, you always want to play and when you get the chance you want to take it. I just try to do my best I can in the games.”
It was pointed out that one if the things she really brings is carrying the ball and dribbling. Maanum replied that her and Miedema are quite different. “If you play a team that suits me better, I can play the other way around with Viv but Jonas knows my strengths and of course my weaknesses as well. But like, in the Lyon game I just tried to be my best and like you say, I like to dribble the ball and also the high pressure fits me good.”
Clearly there’s intense competition for places in the squad and Eidevall has spoken of having so many players in such good form, despite the injuries. Maanum was asked if it’s helped her development as a player since moving from Linköpings to Arsenal. “Yeah, it’s really positive. We have a competitive squad. That makes the squad even stronger and the players even stronger because you have to work so hard in training to even play and I think that’s really strengthening our team.”
The same team started for both the Lyon and Liverpool games and she was questioned as to whether she accepted that she needed to be rested at some point in the season. “I mean it’s obviously hard to play games every third or fourth day but I think I have the fitness to do it and it’s obviously up to Jonas if he wants to play me or not but I feel like I’m here to play.”
”When you’re younger you always want to play but then, it’s always important to understand you have to rest as well. Probably some games, not only fitness but also for your head because it’s really intense to play every third or fourth day so, like I said, I think it’s really important that we have the depth in the squad that we have and that’s the strength there.”
When speaking about the match against Zürich, the Norwegian star admitted she wasn’t completely sure what to expect from them. “Yeah, to be honest, I haven’t watched a lot of Swiss games but obviously our team of analysts are analysing them all the time and we know what we’re meeting.
“Obviously it’s really important. Every game now is important. We know what we did in Lyon and then we have to build from there. It’s a completely different game tomorrow against Zürich and yeah, we just have to go out there and play our game.”
Gunners head coach Jonas Eidevall has most definitely done his homework about tonight’s opposition, and highlighted what he expects to see.
It was mentioned that they formed one deep block and Juventus had to be very patient to break them down, and the Gunners chief concurred: “From seeing that game, it painted a very consistent picture through the whole game so it’s one of the ways we prepare for to play.”
With a sensational win in Lyon already in the bag, Eidevall is not resting on his laurels and is intent on going out all guns blazing with his strongest possible squad.
“We have to do our part, prepare as good as possible, execute as good as possible and then we have to see where that leaves us in the league table.”
When Arsenal play Zurich FC, they’ll be playing their 100th game in the European football. Eidevall spoke about whether he thought a second European title could be on its way this season.
“I think for us to be playing one really good game away to Lyon and get a great result and to start speaking about winning the whole competition, I don’t like that. I don’t think that’s humble enough. It’s not where we come from.”Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall on whether he sees his team pushing to lift the Champions League title this season.
“We’re still at a place where we know we’re a very good football team but we need to work extremely hard and develop in order to fulfil our potential as a team and that power and obligation from history we feel like we have, we know that there’s so many great football players and managers that have put this club in the position it’s in today and we’re so determined to try and leave this club in an even better place than we came into it with.”
Prior to last week’s trip to Lyon, Eidevall spoke about wanting to see how his team compared to the European champions. Following that 5-1 success, the Swede outlined what thinks now.
“I don’t know if I think about it on that deep level. We go game by game. We try to apply ourselves as good as possible. To make things really simple, that’s what we do. And what potential, what ceilings do we have? We’ll have to find out. But if we do 100% of good preparation and execution, we don’t have to regret anything. And I think when you do that, nights like that can happen in Lyon. It’s not a guarantee but it can happen and it was beautiful to be a part of. But we have to keep working and keep having that mindset and focus and maybe it can happen again.”
Mana Iwabuchi came on very late in the game against Liverpool on the weekend and she looked pretty upset after the game. Eidevall outlined the thought process in bringing on his Japanese star two minutes into second half stoppage time.
“That’s a management decision, of course. For me, every game I treat it with the utmost of respect. We saw when we played and used our last opportunity to sub against Ajax in the second game and Beth Mead got a concussion and had to be carried off and we had to finish that game with ten players.
“We know that it’s always a risk making use of the last sub too early because you don’t know what’s going to happen. In hindsight, it’s very easy to sit and say you could have used that opportunity earlier because now you know how it’s going to play out. But when you use that opportunity maybe 15 minutes before the game is over, you all of a sudden have to replace your goalkeeper or to deal with something else on the pitch and you end up turning a comfortable situation into a dangerous one.
“I’m the only one to blame and I need to take responsibility in those situations and that’s what I do by treating every second of the game with the utmost of respect.”
Finally, Eidevall highlighted the disparity between fixture scheduling when it comes to European ties which adversely impact the WSL sides saying, “You see the other teams that we’re playing in Europe, when we played the qualifiers for Ajax, they didn’t have a midweek or they didn’t have a weekend game in between the two games because the Dutch association, they want to prioritise to see if they can go into the group stage because they know that their players will get more competitive games so they choose to do it like that. I think and what I’m looking for is to have that discussion with the clubs and the forces that run the league to see how we get the same.”
Despite having more competitive games and less time to prepare for the Champions League ties than some of their opponents, Arsenal are looking pretty good so far.