Joe Montemurro On Injuries, Small Squad and the Plan to Unlock Liverpool

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Arsenal Women roughed out a 3-2 win over second bottom Liverpool at Chester on Thursday night. Tim Stillman spoke to manager Joe Montemurro about injuries stacking up and the tactical plan to beat Liverpool.

On all three of Arsenal’s goals coming from crosses…
We knew their full-backs would be very aggressive in terms of coming inside and following our wingers, so we worked on finding spaces out wide. We got joy in those wide areas and then finishing in the centre.

On being patient…
You have to wait, they were so deep. Usually in our build-up we try to break a line or break a second line to penetrate. We weren’t able to do that in the first half, we had to try to draw them out in the wide areas and lo and behold it worked.

On conceding avoidable goals recently…
It’s very uncharacteristic, we’re usually very good in understanding transition moments and preparing ourselves and dropping off when we need to. We had issues with body position against Manchester City and keeping the press one way. I think it’s the phase before the defensive phase that we need to work on than the actual goals themselves. That’s what is worrying me a little bit, there have been opportunities to keep the ball away from goal and we’ve not done that and teams have been scoring. On the first goal especially tonight we should have been in more advanced positions to press the ball and we’ve been caught out with balls over the top.

On injuries to Kim Little and Lia Walti…
With both of them we thought they would just need a little bit more time just to recover after the Man City game. With Kim’s we thought it was just bruising and with another week she’d be fine and we did some scans and it was more than that.

Lia Walti just pinched her hamstring the day before the City game, it was just in a rondo situation and it’s developed a little bit more. Are they down to fatigue? We don’t know at the moment. Are they things that were there for a while and developed, I don’t know. It’s unfortunate but we felt that after the City game maybe they’d be back, but it’s not to be.

On Katrine Veje…
Katrine is just going through some issues at the moment and we are supporting her on that. That’s another one that we thought would be ok but it’s developed.

On squad depth…
We’ve been stretched for a while, it’s disappointing that the injuries have been long-term scenarios and not short term situations we can easily cover. I’m not going to make any excuses, for me it (having a small squad) works and it doesn’t work. The reality is you might have players waiting around for a game and I didn’t want to sign players and say ‘you might play when player number 5 or 6 gets injured.’ We’ve had a lot of unfortunate situations and that’s the reality I have to face.

It does have an effect (regardless of squad size) because it means players are working in different areas and the spaces and the movements become a little bit different. One of the big changes in today’s game was when Jen Beattie came on and I think the bell speed just stepped up and we were able to find passes a lot better. I think Jen has been a big miss over the last few weeks.

On keeping the title race alive…
It was a big win. All of the big teams find a way and that goes for the other two teams challenging at the top. Chelsea played against Liverpool and dropped points. You have to find a way sometimes and that shows the character and the real belief this team has, even with the situation we’re in with players out.

With thanks to Suzy Wrack from the Guardian and Emma Sanders from BBC Sport.

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Christopher Humphrey
Christopher Humphrey
11 days ago

Let’s hope that Beth’s exit last night is not another long term absence. I am surprised that she has been able to get this far into the season as she does seem to be targetted, particularly in the two Citeh games.

Eeleen
Eeleen
11 days ago

It didn’t look too good for Beth. I don’t think she is targeted, her playing style is bringing those challenges. She prefers to get past players with speed only, so she pushes the ball away and tries to get past, but most of time oponents who are slower, react by taking her out. But same time, she gets no protection at all from refs, because most of those challenges should be yellow at least. But in long term her dribling style is something that she should look at, because it is not viable fitness wise. Given all the challenges, it… Read more »

Christopher Humphrey
Christopher Humphrey
11 days ago
Reply to  Eeleen

I accept your point (to a degree!!) the George tackle perhaps. Not the Citeh duo though. Last night’s tackle deserves a closer look but at least the ref got the card out.

Peter Story Teller
Peter Story Teller
11 days ago
Reply to  Eeleen

I’m not sure they deliberately target Meado otherwise Kim, Jordan, DvD and Lisa would all get poleaxed more often as they are just as influential in the games. Beth tends to be a ball carrier rather than a one touch player which leaves her wide open to being swiped at and the clumsy tackles rain in to her detriment. As for Kim, her close control means she is a ‘now you see me now you don’t’ type player and by the time the defender has reacted Kim is long gone! I fully agree, however, that the referees need to toughen… Read more »

Armchair
Armchair
10 days ago
Reply to  Eeleen

Little and Mead have different styles. Mead’s style is fine but refs
have to pull out their cards–and Montemurro should be giving the
fourth official an absolute earful when they don’t. It’s hard to know for
sure watching on TV, but he seems pretty mellow most of the time–
maybe a bit too mellow?

Armchair
Armchair
10 days ago

Yes, Stanway absolutely should have been carded early in the second match when she recklessly and rather violently plowed into Mead. No card. Total,
absurd miss by the referee, and she was hacked a few times in that game.

Lady Gooner
Lady Gooner
11 days ago

Hope Beth ain’t got a long term one. Ffs