Joe Montemurro reacts to Chelsea draw

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On taking heart from the performance…
Heart, belief, there’s a lot of words that describe what we can be and what we should be on a regular basis. I’ve always believed in this team, I’ve always believed in the personalities of this team. It’s the intent. If the intention is right, we’ll defend well, we’ll attack well. it showed today. I’ve probably never been more disappointed than today, not to take all three points.

On the plan to escape Chelsea’s press…
We’ve localised two areas that they press, it’s either a diamond and a two, or a flat four, with the two up top. We felt that if we could pull one of the players away centrally then their wide players would have to narrow up and then we’d have the opportunity to play out in wide areas. We did it and we did it with a bit of depth and a bit of smarts too, because the idea then once we got the ball out wide was to change the point of attack through Lia Walti, and we found some good space.

On a first WSL draw since April 2018 and whether it felt like a defeat….
Yes, very much. I was speaking to Leah Williamson after the game and I think we were scared from the Yeovil draw in year one, so we’ve tried to avoid draws… We’re either full throttle or we’re not very good. There’s no in between. But I’m proud today to say that, against one of the best teams in Europe, I felt we dictated what we needed to do, we defended well and when I hear ‘long ball, second ball’ from the opposition team, with the quality of players they have got, it brings a smile to my face.

On being more animated on the touchline today…
It’s the Italian in me, it comes out every once in a while… [chuckling]. We had a discussion this week as a group and I just felt we needed today focus in every moment in the game. Chelsea, the very good team that they are, will get you in a moment that you switch off. I just felt we were able to keep the energy up and keep the alertness, in all modes of the game. I was probably a little bit more vocal than I normally am. It might be the new Joe Montemurro.

On the importance of having Jill Roord and Kim Little back in the physical battle in the middle…
Yes, probably not so much the physical battle, I think they could settle on the ball and we had immediate pressure on the ball through their base setup, but I was more happy that we were able to retain the ball and really find gaps and areas to open them up through Beth and Caitlin, and probably not so much through Viv today but it was a moment of magic from Viv to be able to create the goal. Yes, obviously you plan a team for a starting XI and we just haven’t been able to put out that starting XI, but today at least we got a little bit of a taste with the players coming back, but we look forward to everybody else getting fit.

On a really unfortunate Lotte Wubben-Moy own goal seconds after being announced as player of the match….
We’ll have to speak to the announcer, to not announce i! That’s the first thing we’ll do, but look, I’ve got to commend Lotte, under a lot of pressure, under the situation, she looked like a seasoned professional today. Have a look at that, Leah Williamson and Lotte Wubben-Moy, two centre-backs, it’s amazing and maybe something excited for England going forward.

On whether Arsenal will allow their players to return home for Christmas….
It’s a difficult one, it’s a very difficult one. We’ve already had a discussion about this and the pros and cons. We will be allowing some of the younger players to go home. We’re leaving it pretty much up to the player. But it’s a difficult one, so we’re going to have to get a situation where the FA intervene or someone, a government intervenes, to allow them to go home. But at the moment, it’s a tricky scenario. Mental health is a big one, especially over that Christmas break. We’re assessing it and we’re in constant consultation with the players. We will find a solution to give them the best opportunity of seeing their families.

On dealing with pressure moments better today….
We’ve done a lot of soul-searching in those areas, because they [Chelsea] are a great team who can hurt you in certain moments. I think the biggest thing this week was not to focus on the outcome, not to focus on being judged on the outcome, but to focus on every moment, to focus on how each player can affect the situation, how each player can be affective for the team. We did a lot of work in that domain and everyone worked in both phases, with the ball and without the ball. There was a collective belief today. So as I said before, I’ve always believed in this team, I’ve always believed in the capacity of this team, it’s up to them how far they want to take it. Sometimes it’s more a mental state, it’s more a belief, more an intent, than an actual global sort of thinking.

On moving Miedema to the left for the last 30 minutes…
We told Viv to float away and take one of their centre-backs away, and for Caitlin to come centrally, to combine a little bit more. They obviously changed their system in the second half. They went with a flat front three up top, with Pernille Harder just behind and Ji and England as pivots, if you want to say that, so we had to make sure we could expose them a little bit further up. Look, we got them in that moment. The sad thing is that, even for the cross that they scored, we had that under control, it was a blocked cross. That’s life.

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Tony Hall

Credit where it is due, that was a much improved performance against Chelsea and if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate and very unlucky own goal at the death we would won the game, we certainly deserved to!

Chin

The fighting spirit and team performance today were good enough to call yourselve (Arsenal women) one of the best teams in Europe too….Inducing 14 fouls from one of the best teams in Europe to contain the Arsenal girls (honestly the chelsea women were as usual kicking people more than the ball)…..

If this level of performance continues, who-scare-who, just bring it on👏👏👏

LeoLeoLeo

So they aren’t all cricket scores.

JohnnyCash

Maybe not as beautiful as usual Arsenal game, but Arsenal really could win against Chelsea for the firts time in many games, so it was worth it.
Imho the main battle was in the middle. Roord and Little fought for the ball, never alloud Chelsea to control the game. Arsenal deserved win, but still, it was great to see Arsenal competitive again at the highest level.

Viv the 🐐

I think both teams could have won it. Both had good opportunities. I saw such a difference wieht Joe, seemingly feeling the pressure or that it’s game time. He was up off his bench all game. I hope we keep the intensity thoughout. A win would have been so massive. Playing out from the back didn’t work too well and also the quick passes and releases were hardly there today. If we keep our heads up and bring back injured players, than we will march on. Up The Arsenal!

trugun

Congrats to all the girls today they found that fighting spirit, great to see.

Peter Story Teller

Excellent performance by the whole team today. Chelsea barely had a sniff and how unlucky was Caitlin hitting the bar twice with one shot? Lotte really impressed against a top class forward line and Meado scared their defence witless in the second half. My main comment has to be about Joe’s part in the match. So many times he sits quietly on the bench with his arms folded but today he showed some real passion and enthusiasm. Parading the touchline shouting instructions and encouragement. It may not be his usual style but can we have more of that please because… Read more »

Armchair

A very solid performance, and Arsenal deserved to win it by scoring the only legit goal–but the Gunners were a bit shaky to start the 2nd half and gave up some chances, but the team defense was very solid throughout. Mead was good in the 2nd half and we got some corners, though couldn’t do much with them. Encouraging and gutted about the freak Chelsea goal.

Xuan

Good to see the fight. Gutted about the unfortunate deflection. Chelsea looked ordinary, and you wonder what it could have been if we had maritz and catley on the pitch, and the option to make subs.

Eeleen

FFS could we have some luck in those games for once… We had so many good things in this game and not to win because of THAT goal, is annoying. I hope Joe and girls will take the positives and will believe that they can play their game in these games also. I think Leonie and Katie had their best games as fullbacks for Arsenal. I still can’t wait for Noelle and Steph to be back, but yesterday those two were very good. Leah and Lotte were really good partnership and if I am not mistaking, it was their first… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I agree. Lotte was immense against our nemesis and if she plays at that level consistently Beats will have trouble getting her place back never mind Viki who presumably has joined the injury list since she was not even in the squad. An unfortunate og for Lotte but I suspect Lydia or Fran would have saved that as it was Manu at fault and not Lotte who did what any defender would have done. If we have a dedicated goalkeeping coach these days why is it they cannot get Manu to move her feet? In most respects Manu is a… Read more »

Tony Hall

If that thunderous shot by Caitlin had gone in that would have been a contender for goal of the season. Oh and how good was that last ditch tackle by Katie McCabe when Chelsea were through on goal. One or two of the men’s back four should take note 😉

DB's first touch

Worth noting how hard the Arsenal players kept working until the last second, despite the absence of any injection of fresh legs via substitutions (as opposed to Chelsea who brought on 4 subs throughout the 2nd half).

Peter Story Teller

Yes the overall performance right up to the final whistle was the most impressive thing to take away from the game. Play like that each week and we have no one to fear! I bet if we were offered a 1-1 draw vs Chelsea before the match we would have taken it and yet we are all a little deflated knowing that after all this time we almost had them! If we can get our first choice full backs and Jordan fit for the next meeting we might just have enough despite the FA doing their utmost to stop us… Read more »

Uwot?

As pointed out in Tim stillmans excellent analysis of how Arsenal broke the Chelsea press.I’ve noticed it’s a case of “ serial fouling” by the so called Big sides of Chelsea,city & Utd.Yesterday for example 14 fouls to Arsenals three.Almost a ratio of 5 to one.The tactic being to press & wait for the error to counter attack.None of these sides match the quality of our football.But they do compensate for this with a physical approach which the officials are very lenient with.If Joe’s side can match that & the work rate then their football will do the talking.I’ve seen… Read more »

Xuan

Those snide and niggly fouls by utd and chelsea against us piss me off. The way they just go sliding in. No contact, so no foul. And thankfully no contact or they would be serious injuries. Refereeing is poor. I had no sympathy when a chelsea player went down during the game. Absolutely no sympathy.

Chin

Refereeing is not poor….refereeing is only poor for all Arsenal games (personal opinion)…. ManU’s Jackie was in fact very rough during the game, but not a single booking!!! Leonie’s collision with Magdelena, Leonie was booked….i thought Leonie was the victim instead (correct me if I m wrong)……

Peter Story Teller

I agree Leonie looked like she was flattened and then got booked for her trouble! The elbow in Kim’s face that kept her off the pitch for 5 minutes didn’t even warrant a talking to apparently. That would have been a yellow card in most men’s leagues. I am just glad that our team stood up to it this time round and didn’t get riled by it. However, the standard of refereeing is not keeping up with the quality of the players and coaching staff. The referees seem more reluctant to punish the women players for some reason. It seems… Read more »

Yes, surely we can.

Yes it seems the refs prefer effort to fine football. But once the teams ballance in effort and energy and endurance Arsenal should have an edge over the oppents due to their liquid football . Relief showed on Hays face after Chelsea managed a lucky draw.

Yes, surely we can.

And indeed it would be better for the Arsenal game if a row of small faults by an opponent would be dealt with by the refs.