Eidevall: Arsenal are aware of Villa’s “different threats”

Kris Goman dialled into Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall‘s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Midlands to face Aston Villa (10/12/22).

Above: Vivianne Miedema is all smiles and in sensational form after three weeks off that have revitalised her. Photo: Arsenal Women.

With Viviane Miedema’s spectacular return to form after around three weeks off, it was revealed this week that she spent two of those weeks in Adelaide visiting her friend and ex-teammate, Maruschka Waldus from the Liberty A-League’s Adelaide United. There’s a photo circulating with her at an Isuzu A-League match with Isabel Hodgson and Josh Cavallo in the background. 

She has said, “I feel physically a lot fitter, I think you can see that in the games, and I think by being physically fit, then the game becomes easy again for me. I think you’ve seen that over the last two games and I hope I can at least hold that in the next four games, until Christmas.”

Miedema has scored three goals in four games since she’s been back including a half-volley absolute rocket against Juventus mid-week in the Champions League. She clearly has a lot of discipline to be able to travel, get fit, catch up with old friends and deal with jetlag and then come back firing. 

Impetus asked Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall whether he’d ever let someone take a break like that mid-season and whether it was something he would have thought to do if she hadn’t asked for it herself.

Above: Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall. Photo: Arsenal Women.

As usual, Eidevall was very candid and replied that, “It’s a kind of new situation. The honest answer – and I think this is a weakness of me and also 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 you the information that you’ll need to make 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. But no, I haven’t done it before, and no, I probably wouldn’t have done it had the player not asked.” 

The Gunners head coach admitted that he could see that Miedema was struggling and it’s well documented that she got Covid during the Euros and didn’t really get time to recover fully from that. He said that it was exceptional circumstances with an exceptional person that understands their body and recognised the need for a break.

On top of that, she had the self-confidence to ask where many others wouldn’t. Eidevall admitted that Arsenal are good at taking care of individuals. Miedema herself has been quite vocal about player care since returning and clearly felt the benefit of the break. 

With Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly on fire at the moment and just won player of the month, the Gunners chief revealed that his plans for the opposition surround the whole team rather than just one player: “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. We need to focus on Villa as a whole team in order to deal with them and get the result we want.” “We have massive respect for Aston Villa. We see them as one of the teams developing the most in the league and Carla Ward is doing a tremendous job there. We know they will be motivated, they will be ready for Sunday and we need to match that.” 

Above: Rafaelle Souza in action in midweek against Juventus. Photo: Arsenal Women.

With the return of both Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza, Eidevall was quizzed as to how he adjusted defensively without the aerial dominance of Souza. He said that it forced him to focus on how the defensive four were working as a unit, together with the central midfield to solve different situations – and not making it about individuals. “Now that we’ve got players coming in, like Leah and Rafa, we want to keep that foundation of players working as a unit and we’ll be stronger as a team.” 

Saying all that, he highlighted that Lotte Wubben-Moy has continued to develop as a player. Not only with her individual skills but also her leadership skills and how she functions in that unit.

“She has shown 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.”

So, the competition for places is building and depth is returning despite the current loss of Beth Mead, Kim Little, and Lina Hurtig. 

Arsenal meet Aston Villa at Villa Park on Sunday December 11 at 16.15 local time and Monday December 12 at 03.15 AEST

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