In January 2019, Arsenal Women brought Danish duo Janni Arnth and Katrina Veje to the club. With Viki Schnaderbeck and Tabea Kemme injured, the Gunners needed reinforcements. 32-year old Arnth arrived from Linköpings with more than 80 caps for her country and had won league titles in Denmark and Sweden. Five years Janni’s junior, Katrine Veje came from Montpellier in France, where she had endured an unhappy spell.
Veje struggled to learn French and began to feel isolated. Arsenal was the career change she needed. “It’s not a secret that I found it hard at Montpellier,” she reflects at Arsenal’s London Colney base. “French is a difficult language to learn. Here it is different because I understand everything, I have a lot of friends that are living in London too. I have a lot of things to do here besides football, which is very important for me. I am not just leaving training and going home to be on my own all day.”
Arnth and Veje have known one another for some years through the Danish national team and Janni confirms that they have been a mutual support for one another, even if their simultaneous arrival at Arsenal was a bit of a coincidence. “It’s really nice to have someone I know here, someone to speak Danish with too. We have helped each other a lot, especially off the pitch. We’ve built up even more of a friendship because we have been there for each other.”
Katrine confirms that Janni’s presence wasn’t a deciding factor for her in the move, but has proved to be a happy coincidence, “I actually didn’t know Janni was signing too until about two weeks before I arrived,” she explains. “Janni is a little older than me so we weren’t in the same social circle with the national team, but we have gotten to know each other even better here. It’s really nice to have another Danish girl here.”
A rumbustious left-winger or left wing-back, Veje was able to fill in for Emma Mitchell in the full-back position last season. Veje is known for her energy and has played more as a winger during her career, but she explains that Joe Montemurro sees her more as an attacking full-back. “I like to run from deep and use my speed and technique to come up on the outside and support the attack. I’m very happy to play in this position for this team because we attack so much.”
? Clearing your lines, @ArsenalWFC-style!
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) April 2, 2019
Katrine says her partnership with Beth Mead on the left-hand side has developed quicker than she expected, “It’s always difficult when you’re a new player and you arrive in the middle of the season. But I really like playing with Beth. She likes to go inside, which allows me to run past her on the outside and we are really good in 1-2 situations. I have speed and I never stop running, sometimes I run too much! I think one of my strengths is in one-on-one situations and I want to show that more next season.”
Janni says it was also Joe’s vision for his defenders, that they are the first building block for the attack, that attracted her to the club too. “Joe really inspired me with the way he wants the team to play and I wanted to be part of that, but to bring my experience with me and bring that onto the pitch and in training every day. I want to contribute to the way we build play and in the transition moments when we need to stop attacks.”
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) January 7, 2019
Janni was brought to the club to lend her experience as the Gunners closed in on their first league title for seven years. But she insists she has been learning during her time here too. Arnth has spent much of her time as experienced back-up for first choice defensive pairing Leah Williamson and Louise Quinn. She is impressed with what she has seen.
“Leah has the potential to be a world class centre-half as she has already been showing. She is young but has been here such a long time and she just needs to keep doing what she is doing and work as hard as she is working. She is an unbelievable talent. Louise is probably more of a classic Irish type of defender. She is super dedicated and professional. She plays with a big heart and gives the team more personality.”
Veje and Arnth have certainly given Arsenal greater personality and a couple of big hearts in their short time at the club and both already boast a WSL title medal- a fitting tribute to their contribution since arriving in the winter. Next season, the small matter of the Champions League awaits for the Gunners’ great Danes.
For a further flavour of Janni and Katrine as players, check out these pieces from Arseblog News earlier in the year from Scandinavian women’s football expert Katja Kragelund.