Joe Montemurro reacts to 1-1 draw with Reading

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Arsenal lost further ground in the WSL title race with a disappointing 1-1 draw away at Reading on Sunday. Lauren Brutton gave Reading the lead with Vivianne Miedema equalising just before half time, but the Gunners couldn’t find a second half breakthrough.

On the passing not being quick or crisp enough today…
Yes I would agree with that, we couldn’t find any solutions. Usually we can pass our way out but today everything needed two or three touches, everything needed a bit more and our positioning wasn’t very good- especially in the first half and we paid for it.

On making a triple substitution at half-time…
We were a bit low in our positioning and we needed to get higher and Leah and Jen can pass beyond and in between the lines and that helped us a little bit. They were finding the gaps and the spaces and circulating a little bit quicker but it broke down when we got to the top third.

We were below par for the whole game today, I don’t think we can pinpoint a period, we just didn’t get into our rhythm and didn’t position ourselves well enough for the passing opportunities and we need to fix that.

On his team selection and whether preparation was affected by players having to self-isolate recently…
It could have had a little bearing, the reality is that some players weren’t prepared to play 90 minutes as a result because of their training stimulus during the week and we had to balance that out. We had to balance whether we start them and risk an injury or do we ease them in for more of a long term scenario? I had to make that decision.

On recent form…
Sometimes you get these situations in a season and it was always going to be a tough game coming here, I wish I had a magic wand but the reality is that we have to keep learning from these scenarios and keep preparing as best as we can. We’ve lost a bit of fluidity, a bit of zip and we have to position ourselves better and do it better, we’re just not doing it well enough at the moment.

On playing the same 3223 system as the home game against Reading in September…
They have an overload in midfield because they play with either a diamond or a box so they have an extra player in there. So you need to bypass their first line of press and drag players in so they have to press the ball side and the opposite side is open. We tried that in the first half and it didn’t work so we adjusted things and we got a little bit more joy but all credit to Reading, they pressed us in the right areas and probably showed more belief in what they were doing than us today.

On targets for the season now…
Our target is to win the next game and play good football. There are a lot of big games to happen and a lot of teams to play each other. Reading were very, very good today and there is a lot of football to be played in this league. I don’t set targets in terms of having to reach this or that. We prepare for each game and we want to be the best we can be in each game and after that, the results take care of themselves at the end of the season.

On Anna Patten making a second Arsenal debut today…
She will be a special player, we’re very proud to have her here. It was a tough start for her today but she showed some really good signs and we really believe in her going forward and we believe that she’ll be a really big player for Arsenal.

On playing West Ham next week…
Another tough game against a team that will be tough to beat and they’ve been unlucky in a few games. I keep on saying it but this is a tough league, you can’t let your guard down or relax for one minute and we saw that today.

On getting back to playing football today after a tumultuous few of weeks…
Football is what we’re here for and we’ve had distractions that are not football distractions- they’re important ones for the wellbeing of the players. It’s not been easy but we want to get back to playing football and get back into a good rhythm.

On the failure to switch play effectively today…
You must’ve heard my halftime team talk! We couldn’t get it out there, they were pressing us on the ball side and normally we can get out with a second pass because we have a first player enter in to take away an opponent but we couldn’t do it today, all credit to Reading.

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Lamtec

The guy is a joke. Same old thing. The sooner he’s sacked the better.

Xuan

Very disappointing. Fighting for 3rd now, and to be honest, we dont look like we will pull it off.

City and Chelsea restarted with clear statements of intent, while this was what we mustered. Sure, preparation was disrupted due to covid, but that just highlights the gap in the mentality, discipline and professionalism. Which is the same reason why we have fallem woefully short in all the big games.

Chin

City’s ambition in the league is spoken by their addition in Abby Dahlkemper, the one hell defender from USWNT….With the gunfire Arsenal displayed today, it would be building castles in the air to break thru City’s midfield and then backline….

Chin

If it is a tough league, and no targets in mind, why not make space graciously and let the club ropes in a tougher coach with some dream targets? Honestly, the team has gone from bad to worse….if corrective measures are not going to roll out soon, the team today will have no problem drawing Tottenham, West Ham, and losing big to Chelsea, ManC and ManU…

Armchair

Arsenal’s dream targets all get hurt in their first game and miss the rest of the season.

Chin

Joe Montemurro has to go before Arsenal women go off the top 3 contentions!

Gooner10

Tim, would the team have been aware at half time etc of the scores in the Chelsea and Man City matches? Can’t remember when I saw the team so lacklustre and seemingly lacking desire to win.

Krumphax

But they had to be ready to punce on the United v Chelsea result. Every point dropped is one too much. That should be clear. That makes the performance hard describe. You could say it reminds of the late Emery stages, where no one could have been bothered to do anything. It was one or two games (City and now) but today was really shameful. I just hope the team is not disintegrating in a sense. But today was no good sign.

Peter Story Teller

A poor game to watch and we certainly did not deserve to win.
Passing and through balls were awful all over the pitch and we looked like a team who hadn’t played for several weeks and we know why that is so I’ll say no more.
You cannot really put this one down to Joe as there wasn’t a single player in white and redcurrent today who had a decent match.

trugun

Of course you can put it down to Joe, the fact that the players were in a lacklustre state is his fault entirely, he’s there to motivate the team by whatever means necessary. The excuse of lock down or Covid is null and void Man City and Chelsea have been under the same restrictions and yet they both put a shift in and won their games. Under Joe every game seems to be worse than the one before, why when just coming back do you alter a reliable back line?

Peter Story Teller

It wasn’t lockdown though, was it? We should have had a warm up game against Villa last week and we didn’t for the well publicised reason. If we had played that match, which I have no doubt we would have won, our passing may have been crisper and when the ball goes to feet instead of in the vague direction of one of our players we make faster progress through the opposition.
We looked like a team that had several weeks without a game because we were and it was our own fault! That is the point I was making.

Eeleen

But City was in the same situation. And they won by 7. Played also youngsters, should have been as rusty as us. Maybe Reading is little stronger than Villa, but against Chelsea last week they were awul. Like truly awful. We made them look good today.

Krumphax

Yeah it is partially true. But the starting lineup was something else. That really took us back and made live so much harder. And the lack of energy and movement was frightening. I mean, if we can’t perform after a break, but everyone else can, than there is something going wrong.
Up The Arsenal!

Eeleen

Main job of any manager is to make team play better than sum of its parts. We are worse in every tight game. Back three with two 21 year olds and a winger? Anna hasn’t played in months, what kind of player management this is. Ok let’s say Jen and Leah couldn’t have done 90 minutes, then play both of them 45 and have some experience and leadership in backline. He had 2 RB’s on the bench and 3rd one playing as RW. Arsenal’s successful 3backs are based on that we have very good individual defenders in Jen and Leah,… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I doubt it as Jordan would have probably been in there if available. We really missed her energy today.

Eeleen

Yeah we missed her, but if I had thought she would have played in midfield today I would have more symphaty with midfield not working again. Jordan from wide can help this midfield function better, but he has not played her in midfield whole season. And today we saw again that it doesn’t work. And he had all other wide players available.

Krumphax

One player can bring energy, but the rest of the team has to bring some too. No denying.

Armchair

Monte has gone daft. He’s lost the plot. He plays Patten–who is both young and inexperienced and last played for a U.S. college team many months ago: Why? If that weren’t bad enough, he also plays two other young, inexperienced players with alongside her–Wubben-Moy and Gut, the latter having already shown that she’s not ready for prime time. What IS he thinking? Montemurro keeps telling us after poor performances by youngsters in league matches how good they’re going to be //in the future.// That’s not helping Arsenal now, man. And he seems ALWAYS to be finding ways not to play… Read more »

Tim Stillman

Steph had surgery last week, she won’t be available for a while.

Granted Steph’s unavailability is a genuine precaution, I’ll give Joe that.
However in other aspects I genuinely don’t understand his team selection at times. Always trying to be too clever. Like the know-it-all that ends up getting a C in his exam.

Surely the team needs a change in leadership. I don’t see this getting better.

Marieke

There he goes again… How it was always going to be tough. And how we have more tough games coming up. West Ham is tough to beat… no they’re not. With a squad like ours, we need to be beating those teams and say that we should be able to beat them. We have the quality. And on Anna and Lotte playing, he’s putting it by saying Leah and Jen were going to get us higher on the pitch. He’s not admitting that playing Anna and Lotte was a huge mistake. They might be great players in the long run,… Read more »

Eeleen

It is all about the balance and he is getting everything about balance wrong at moment. Lotte was very good against Chelsea, but she had Leah next to her as leader. And they had balance between them. Anna, Lotte and Katie as back 3? Who leads, who covers, who tictates passing patterns? And besides Manu is so so off form this season, that she isn’t even usable anymore. Absolutely no leaders there. For me Malin and Lia are very good replacements for each other but I haven’t seen them good together. Again no balance. They are too similar. Occupy same… Read more »

Krumphax

I couldn’t figure out what the lineup was. He kinda corrected his mistake at half time, using 3 subs. But just imagine preparing for a game for a week in a certain way and then having to throw that over board because it was garbage. There was so much going wrong today. It was a little bit of FIFA career mode in that, oh we need some experience for our young and fringe players, let’s just play them all at once. I could seriously see how some players go out of this game and would be thinking like: what the… Read more »

Eeleen

Yeah, but could have played Leah half a game and Jen half. Could have played back4, because he had two RB’s on bench. And this 3223 system worked at home only because one of the DM’s were Leah and nobody beside her is capable of playing this hybrid CB/CM role. Certainly not Malin in her first season.

Krumphax

I mean I lost oversight of who had to isolate and who not. But there are surely more stable ways of getting that around. In the end the ones he presumebly wanted to rest had to play and Noelle who I thought would have gotten some vital minutes didn’t come on at all. That was an experiment that blew up in his face and that is hard to deny. I sound quite negative and harsh I must say, but that was just terrible. I could not watch the full City game or this one, because I didn’t want to watch… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Thing is it didn’t get any better when Leah, Beats, Meado etc. came on either, did it so how can we blame Lotte, Anna or Malin for that performance? Do professional footballers forget who their teamates are and how to pass a ball in 4 weeks because that is what appeared to happen? At one point Manu came rushing out of her area only to leave the ball for Leah who was leaving it to Manu to clear! No inexperienced youngsters involve there! I am convinced that our issues are down to mentality and convincing the girls that they can… Read more »

Armchair

I agree. He overthinks everything and tries to be too clever by half. How about putting out best 11 out there, let them play their game, and let the other side worry about us instead of trying to out-scheme every opponent–which isn’t working. I’m sure he thought he could play young, inexperienced players against Reading and get away with it–and he didn’t. Playing Patten was stupid, and he needs to give the Gut thing a rest. I’ve never seen a team that has always got so many personnel/injury/recuperation/rest/recovery, blah, blah issues. Montemurro know longer seems to know what he’s doing.… Read more »

Tim Stillman

Yeah his family are here, they came over when he signed a new contract in 2018.

What he’s doing now with lineups and tactics is what he’s always done. I think the performances now are much more morale / confidence based. I think there’s soft factors at play.

Marieke

I think winning and doing well as a team will result in individual confidence. Most are well established international players with lots of experience, they don’t need a coach to hold their hand. I haven’t been a fan of getting rid of Joe because I think the girls like him and his friendly approach and making everybody feel included worked for them. But now I think they need him to step up and put aside the youngsters even though he’s keen on making them part of it, and play the best possible team. I’m a teacher. I wanted to be… Read more »

Xuan

Yup, he overthinks and it is not working. Players are also getting confused. I think the players just dont buy it anymore.

Salibaba and the Forty Thieves

You think their downing tools like the men’s team?

they’re

Tim Stillman

If anything I think the opposite has happened here, I think he’s been too severe one too many times in his appraisal of their performances. You can only blame the players once or twice, he’s done it a lot of times now and when you do that, you lose them. He played this system against Reading in September and Arsenal won 6-1. Having such a young back line was suboptimal but I have some sympathy because most of the bench had two training sessions in four weeks and we’ve all complained about the injury situation- demonstrating he has learned from… Read more »

Eeleen

I agree Tim that he has probably lost some players who he has thrown under the bus too many times. Dvd for excample don’t have future in Joe’s Arsenal team again. And lot of soft factors are in play why we seem to lose any ability to play football. But from the first game this season against PSG he hasn’t been able to make midfield work. And that is tactical problem. Our team is so disconnected in tough matches and it is getting worse. Jill is moving more to striker position, Kim is dropping deeper in every game. Space between… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Yeah not sure what is wrong with DvD this season but something (someone) has upset her. World class player to a nobody; why?

E-gooner

Thanks Tim for the interview! It’s always really appreciated, although after games like these, I tend to find it hard to read your articles , but that’s not your fault of course 🙂

I don’t like the ‘JoeOut’ thing at all, but I do think there’s a lack of chemistry between him and the players right now, and that needs to be fixed somehow. Someone said the players looked disinterested, I would rather say they looked insecure. And yes, I do think a coach has a big share in changing the mindset of his players.

Tim Stillman

Yes it doesn’t look a happy camp at the moment

Krumphax

Absolutly. And they are playing as individuals, and not as a team. People carrying the ball for much too long, no switch of play when the opponent was pressing on one side. In the pre-game one said, that maybe “Dubaigate” might fire them up, well it doesn’t look like that.
It was a performance of the mans team pre-christmas: No movement, no passing, no plan and a whole lack of confidence and energy.
Up The Arsenal!

Jacques

Reading missed two great chances in 2nd half and could have easily won. Another dismal performance, made even worse by recent events.

Hopefully Leine’s injury is not too bad and Arsenal can overleap ManU for 2nd (or 3rd)

Goonersince55

As others have said, there just seems something amiss at the moment. We are moving backwards. Was the starting line-up really just a matter of fitness to play 90 minutes? The ill-advised trips to Dubai may have been dealt with “internally” but I do wonder exactly what that meant. Did it affect selection? Whatever the reasons, having three young inexperienced players at the heart of our defensive spine was difficult to explain. Then all three of them were replaced at half time – to quote Alice, “curiouser and curiouser”. If Joe were to be replaced, who in the Arsenal hierarchy… Read more »

Elise

right, I was wondering the same – who is overseeing this?

Elise

I’m pretty worried about Miedema being snatched away by another team if Arsenal keep going like this. That’d be really sad, and also, I wouldn’t blame her… Arsenal does not seem like a happy team right now. I’d be heartbroken though – I’m became a Miedema fan and an Arsenal women’s fan at the same time, at the start of summer 2017 that saw Miedema transfer to Arsenal and then win the Euros with the Oranjeleeuwinnen.

E-gooner

Yep, same for me! I wouldn’t blame her if she left either, but maybe that isn’t necessary. Who knows which changes are coming up towards the end of this season. She certainly isn’t completely happy now (who is) but things can change quickly in football.

Matthinc

The high crosses floated into the box and the lack of anyone available for a cut back confused me. Arsenal clearly the more technical side, with Foord and Miedema, why not keep the ball on the ground and pass through them, Arsenal style? I do wonder whether a new coach might not be a good idea, although I’ve been a big fan of Joe.

canon fodder

Joe is taking us backwards. How I long for the days of Vic Akers!

I won’t slate the team too much. The news media has already given them an earful. I’ll just say I’m not surprised to hear the coach’s response.

It shouldn’t be too difficult of a game with the amount of talent in the squad but who am I to question the coach?

I guess he wants mediocrity to be our new standard.

Peter Story Teller

Appears to be many calls for Joe’s head here but if he were to go who would you replace him with? Apart from Jill Ellis who is probably not looking for a new job after winning everything with Team USA who else is there? Casey Stoney and Emma Hayes are both ex-Gunners with proven correct attitude but they’re not going to leave what they have built for us so where do we look next and how do you know they will fare any better? I am not defending Joe because I cannot abide this wishy washy tough game, might win,… Read more »

Eeleen

Jayne Ludlow just became “available” 😂.

Peter Story Teller

Could do worse! Feisty ex-Gooner, tells it how it is, and she has been very critical of the Arsenal girls’ performances in her commentaries. Show us you can do better then, Jayne!

Chin

Rachel Yankey, Karen Carney, Katie Chapman😊

Peter Story Teller

Ex-players do not always make good managers though and none of those have a track record. At least Jayne Ludlow has managerial experience and rumour has it that West Ham were trying to sign her up before Christmas. Often the best managers never really “made it” in their own playing career e.g. a certain Mr Wenger!

Krumphax

A very good point. It would be another Wenger situation, where: Yeah, he has to go, but who do we take? Ah this one looks kinda good, could maybe workout.
And it did not.

I really hope they find the right person, if the trend goes on like this for the rest of the season, or else we will find ourselves left way behind.

Lyel

One scary parallel with the men’s team is that our LB is our main creative threat, our midfield looks completely broken 😬 I can’t believe Joe saw Katie exchanging passes with Zinsberger in the box instead of trying to get up the flank and didn’t think to try and change that at the first opportunity. His in-game management is lacking which is a shame considering how vocal he was against Chelsea. She’s not a centre back, she’s barely even a left back, she’s an attacking player and I feel sorry for her that Joe set her up to fail. Also… Read more »

Armchair

While I (and everyone else) think very highly of Mead and Foord, I rather think that McCabe and Evans are our two most effective attacking wingers. They were our regular forwards, I believe, when Arsenal won the league, were they not? Now it all seems a bit confused–or perhaps I should say that Monte seems confused about personnel. Given the usual injury situation with this club, it is natural to move McCabe to left back and play Mead (or Dvd). The team just has had no continuity the last 12 months. If you look at Chelsea and ManCity, they are… Read more »

Lyel

McCabe played all over the place in 18/19 (CM, LB, LW, RW) and was excellent. I still think she’s our best wide attacker, 8 G/A from a defensive position this season is insanely productive. Just a shame about Steph’s injury. Lisa played RW/RB during 18/19 and really carved a niche out for herself at RB, though I think the signing of Maritz could limit her minutes there. I think Foord is good enough to start. The thing is about Mead, she gets goals and assists, but she’s incredibly frustrating to watch. In a lot of matches, she’ll be awful at… Read more »

ArsNick

As a relative newcomer to following the women’s team, and not being fully up to date with all the strengths and weaknesses of the squad , I have to say you can’t have so many gifted players all struggling at the same time unless there is something seriously wrong with the management. Strange team selection, players played out of position, confused tactics, a drop in team morale both individually and collectively, players not understanding their responsibilities on or off the pitch, are all management issues. Individual players can have bad spells, it’s part of the game, but I see very… Read more »