Joe Montemurro reacts to Chelsea defeat

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Arsenal went down 3-0 to Chelsea at Kingsmeadow on Wednesday night, after an even first half encounter, a second half double from Pernille Harder and an injury time strike from Fran Kirby consigned the Gunners to a second consecutive defeat. The first two questions were asked by me, the others were from other journalists and the answers are reproduced here with thanks to them.

On playing out from the back against Chelsea’s high press in the first half…
We can’t go long against Chelsea. We were playing out against their press well in the first half and they gradually started to drop off. The plan is always to try to play out going forward, we’re not going to get much by playing long balls straight into their back four, we don’t have the players for that but Chelsea have the defenders to defend high balls.

On whether it’s possible to analyse this game in isolation when set against the overall record against big clubs….
We could go crazy analysing this game! There wasn’t a lot wrong apart from the fact that they scored three goals and we scored none! We know they are a big transition team and they got us on transitions, not just on the goals but a couple of other times. It’s hard to keep analysing these games and situations because if you are a bit more pragmatic they will just hurt you in other ways. If you are too open they will hurt you on the counter, they’re a very good team with a very good squad with powerful players and in the end, it’s the level of quality that has unlocked us today.

On whether Arsenal are out of the title race…
Mathematically it’s there to play for but sometimes realistically you have to set other targets. We have a Champions League spot to play for, two games in hand (on Manchester United) to get us closer to second or third spot and to make sure we keep building and keep progressing. We will keep on going.

On whether there are any positives to take from the game…
I’m sure my opinion will differ to others, it’s a game where we found spaces and had a lot of the ball and constructed and built moves quite well. We were proactive and played a good brand of football but transition football seems to be the flavour of the month and it’s unlocking us at the moment. We’ve been beaten by three very good quality transition moments today.

On the record against big teams and whether Arsenal are slipping away from the pack…
As the coach of the team I take full responsibility, I make the decisions and obviously I am getting some things wrong. I take full responsibility for these losses against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.

On whether there is a confidence issue against the bigger teams…
If we were miles and miles away I would be more concerned but we’re not, we’re close. Sunday’s game could’ve gone either way. The game against Chelsea at Meadow Park could’ve gone either way as well. I’m concerned that we can’t capitalise on these moments but if we were miles and miles away I would be more concerned. It would be nice to play some of these games with a full complement of players so the options off the bench or the options on the approach could be different but it is what it is and I am fully responsible. I am the coach and I can’t fault our players tonight, we will reassess and realign our targets.

On Caitlin Foord’s injury…
She came in for recovery on Monday and her knee blew up, we don’t think it’s anything drastic at the moment but we’ll update everyone when we have the results of the scan.

On the disappointment of conceding the title…
We set out this year with what we felt was a very balanced squad and a very solid team so there is a lot of disappointment. Mathematically the title is still there but realistically we have to start realigning our process. We’re still confident that we can finish the season well and keep a good buoyant side.

On his message for the Arsenal fans…
I’ve got a group of players who gave everything today and a staff that are working day in and day out to make sure we uphold the name and standards of this club and make sure the belief is still there. You have tough times in your career and these are tough times but this is a team we really believe in, that we believe represents the club in the best way possible. We’re not far off, we’ll keep going and make sure we get something out of the year and to get the backing of the fans to believe in that.

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Falooda

Zero surprises. The most depressing thing about the result today is how unsurprising it was. I will always want the girls to win but never have I been more sure about a result going into the game. The sheer gulf in quality was embarrassing, we looked utterly impotent going forward and helpless in stopping them attacking when they turned it up. It’s all well and good saying its your fault Joe, but nothing about how Chelsea set up today should have surprised us given how many beat downs we’ve been handed by the big teams. Don’t even have the appetite… Read more »

Falooda

I said this last week and I will say it again – you switch the managers tonight and there’s no way Arsenal are at the end of a 3-0 defeat. Don’t understand those turning up their noses at what Hayes is achieving, she may not be perfect but she sure knows how to set her team up such that they keep in these games, minimize the chances of opponents scoring and set the platform for their individual quality to shine through.

Takeshita

He needs to leave now, sounds like a broken record to me.

I’m just glad more of the supporters are seeing that he’s too stubborn and just not up to the task.

I have had my doubts for over two seasons now, regarding his tactical nous but I got the impression my stance was an outlier amongst fans.

Tim’s tactical reviews are a great conceptualization of Joe’s ideas but the reality remains that as a coach, Montemurro has lost his spark.

Armchair

When two already strong teams add big talent and Arsenal not only does not add big talent but loses vital talent to injury, this is the result. Monte had one viable sub today–one: Nobbs. It’s fair to ask if different tactics/formation would have altered the outcome of any of the matches against the big rivals. Actually, I’m not even sure that question could be asked because there haven’t been enough player options to try new things. When already good teams add Harder and Kerr, Bronze and Mewis, Heath and Press, and Arsenal respond by playing 21/22 year-olds with little experience… Read more »

canon fodder

I wonder if Joe has a special dispensation because he manages our women’s team. with the quality of players that we have, he has no excuse for his consistent failure. We are a shadow of our former selves. He makes Kerr look like a genius. He has to GO NOW!

E-gooner

Ok, let’s assume they send him off. Who would and could replace at this stage?

Peter Story Teller

If Jill Ellis and Jane Ludlow turn us down I’d give Faye White a trial to the end of the season. She cannot do any worse!

Eeleen

That’s the point that I don’t think anyone can do any worse at moment. We have one half meaningful game left. Club should know better who is available. That’s how they got Joe. At moment we should still be exciting proposition. If we could get someone in now, he/she could have couple of games to figure our what goes on in the club. And make squad decisions, because Joe inherited more balanced squad than he will leave behind. Or get someone in till summer and go after Carla Ward. If in summer we didn’t need “a project”, than now we… Read more »

Dkap

We have no squad depth to cover players underperforming or injured. We need a huge revamp of the squad in the summer. Transfer out the deadwood and bring in more players to provide backup and competition for spots.

Vonnie

Because Joe likes a small squad, the man isn’t good enough to manage at the top level.

Tim Stillman

This is a misdiagnosis of the issue imo. Seven players have come in in the last 12 months. Arsenal have the same number of registered first team players as United and City. The squad is big but there are just always lots of injuries. The big squad overhaul has happened and the issues remain. The issue is, ergo, no longer squad size or the squad needing yet another overhaul.

Peter Story Teller

I agree, Tim. There is not too much wrong with the squad. Our problems are what they are being asked to do and we still have not identified why we are getting so many injuries.

The overhaul needs to be the off the pitch staff because something is going wrong between games putting us on the back foot before we even step onto the pitch.

Armchair

We suffer WAY more injuries than any other team and nobody seems to know why. Fans can get angry at Montemurro, and maybe his training methods are the problem, I don’t know, but when you are playing without 3 starters regularly against clubs that are top 5/6 in the world, you are going to have problems–and this notion that his tactics are wrong seems off the mark. That said, he continues to stick with the 4–3-3 and I wonder if packing the midfield (4-4-2) wouldn’t help us beat these opponent presses. But we’ve barely got 4 midfielders healthy at any… Read more »

Chin

“We do not have the players for that…..”, “it is the level of quality that has unlocked …..”, “we were beaten by 3 very good transitions….”, so Mr Montemurror, do all these remarks indicate that your versatililty requirements in players do not include quality? But if your answer is “yes”, does that mean our quality is sub-standard as compared to other big teams? And what does “I take full responsibility mean”? Does it mean to say you will go or just paying lip service? With you around, I am personally quite sure that we can finish this season well by… Read more »

Armchair

It’s just been a bad season in just about every way–another raft of injuries (Little, Beattie, Maritz (two/three starters, out for most of the season; Walti, Roord and Evans out for weeks; Catley out all season). Bad play. Match cancellations, Covid issues, poor selections. Just bad. Miedema should have scored in the first half tonight. You can’t squander opportunities like that when you’re playing a tough opponent and are struggling as a team. When the most clinical forward in the game misses a chance like that you know things have got bad. I’m surprised to hear Monte describe transition football… Read more »

Falooda

THIS is the issue with the “but we brought in 6 players” over the summer argument. Not only were those players replacing players who barely played or were always injured (Mitchell, Carter, etc), it doesn’t actually address the quality gap. I remember when folks were pointing this out in the summer and were being given arguments like: Arsenal already have a quality team Arsenal have a long term plan and don’t need to chase short term loans the likes of United/City are doing There were genuine people who’ve just accepted the serious lack of ambition at this club. When Chelsea… Read more »

Armchair

Well, you seem to be arguing that both Joe is the problem and the club is the problem, in that it won’t bring in the extra talent needed to raise the level of play. There was the thought among fans that Arsenal’s squad was fine, because we’d just won the title. Turns out, that’s not the case–certainly not when you’re suddenly forced to play 21-year-olds at centerback and holding mid against powerhouse clubs because you’ve got half a dozen walking wounded. A serious analysis needs to be made of where and why the team is floundering. Is it a coincidence… Read more »

Arsenal_MySkin

In my opinion, the real problem lies with the club management, everything is late and even seems less ambitious. I admit that I am still new (in the last 2 years) following women’s football, especially Arsenal, if you look at its history there is no doubt that Arsenal is one of the most successful teams in Europe and the best in England. An example is the Champions League, if it is managed seriously it is not necessary waiting more than 13 years to win it again, but look at the facts now, what is even more ironic is the Man… Read more »

Xuan

We will know how much belief the players have in him by whether they stay. Chances are they will walk.

Armchair

Nobody just “walks.” They have to have a situation that is as good or better than what they have here, in most cases, although that doesn’t hold if they’re not playing much and want more time on the field. In that case they may go to a team considered less strong.

HenryKamp

Sack the Ozzie. Such a disgrace to lose Viv this summer. Forget winning the league we might even miss out on not finishing in the European place and why would anyone still remain when there’s no European football. The appointment of Joe should have been analysed before. Not the right coach and must be sacked to save the season.

Chrishgooner

Viv is contracted until summer 2022. If she goes its for a fee.

Clark

You would think an American owner would want bring in some American talent to augment the quality the club currently has. Maybe a new manager / coach could coax such a move.

Chrishgooner

Silent Stan couldn’t give a flying f**k for AWFC. He barely shows an interest in AFC.
Perhaps Joe has had his day and change is needed but the general malaise in the Club in the broadest sense won’t go until Stan goes.

Marieke

There was a moment after the 2-0 that Leah took a desperate shot from afar which was terrible and Viv went “What the fuck!” I felt the same. I feel like it’s more than just Joe not being right. His tactics or injury issues. I feel like we’ve lost the team. They were so together. Leah does all the hard work in the back. Katie does the hard work to get up on the pitch but then it’s just it. Lia is working hard to build up play but can’t go anywhere. Jill is busy showing off that she’s so… Read more »

E-gooner

I’ve always refused to step on the ‘JoeOut’ bandwagon, but this quote made me really angry and sad: ‘it’s the level of quality that has unlocked us today’.
So know the team hasn’t only lost confidence in him and in themselves (which was already the case, so it seemed), he also lost confidence in his team, too?

Armchair

How could it be? Little, who is arguably our most important or 2nd most important player, has been out most of the season–as have about four other regulars–including a starting centerback, a starting fullback, a starting holding mid.

Marieke

But even when Kim was playing. She didn’t have anywhere to go. I’ve mentioned it before after a game Kim did play in, she’s great with the ball, but then she hasn’t been able to give those great passes because nobody seems to be in the right spot. There are glimpses of the old team sometimes. I still think these are all quality players. I understand what Joe sees in Lotte, I think she’s going to be amazing, but she just needs a bit more time. I still think Jordan, Daan, Beth, Lia and obviously Viv are amongst some of… Read more »

Eeleen

Now in the next few days we will see how much Arsenal football club really cares about its women’s team. And I don’t mean investment at moment, although that issue may come up. If they care, Joe can’t and won’t stay. These last two games show such a cap between us and Chelsea, that it can’t continue. Weather it is mostly tactics or mostly player quality or mostly not having quality players available, does not matter, because Joe is responsible for all of these. Team with what Joe won the WSL was not his team. He inherited that from Pedro… Read more »

Falooda

Perfectly stated. Being fed the “but we added 6 players in the summer” is such a condescending line when even then folks were pointing out to the lack of ambition at the same time clubs like City and Chelsea were improving their already formidable teams. I remember even on the comments here, we were being told “but we already have a quality team” despite Chelsea adding Harder/Kerr to bench their POTY. Well, now even the manager responsible for the recruitment himself thinks there is a quality gap. He doesn’t even believe in the quality of his own recruitment. Indecision and… Read more »

E-gooner

Wow Tim, I went to sleep early – wasn’t expecting to already read the report – you must have thought: ‘let’s get it over with’ 🙂 I just can say it makes me sad to see this team falling apart. Another thing: we couldn’t see it properly because of the bad cam work, but I was pretty sure Emma Hayes went to Miedema almost straight after the game to ‘shake elbows’ (or whatever that is called). It surprised me a bit – yes, she might have been closest to her, but it seemed to me Emma went to her on… Read more »

Xuan

I hope that some of these players respect the club enough to leave the WSL if they go, even if Joe has been so detrimental to the standing of the club these 2 seasons.

Tim Stillman

Yes, there was an element of that! But also, I want this comments section to thrive and be a place AWFC fans can come- even if it is to despair and complain (justifiably I might add) about the manager so I wanted it to appear quickly for that purpose while people still felt a bit raw and wanted to blow off steam- that’s what comment sections are for! I didn’t notice that, personally. I know Viv is settled in London so I can’t pretend I am not scared about the possibility however, with the forwards Chelsea have it’s difficult to… Read more »

dirk

was having this chat last night about offloading Viv and building a team and slightly different style of play with Beth England as the 9,
with curent squad they would benefit from a bit less continental style to a more traditional english until the manager can recruit the calibre of player to play the way he wants

Peter Story Teller

If Viv leaves put Beth Mead in the middle. 77 goals in 78 games when she was an out and out centre forward ffs!

I don’t know what happened in the game where she didn’t score 🙂

She is wasted on the touchline.

Eeleen

Yeah, but Sunderland was years ago and lower level. For Arsenal she has never scored more than 8 goals. And for Arsenal second striker near Viv can score a lot, given the type Viv is. For excample Cailin has already 7 with smth like 900 minutes played.
If Beth had game and developed as goalscorer for us, than maybe, but she isn’t that anymore.

Peter Story Teller

But it appears Caitlin is given more freedom to go to the centre. Meado has been told to stay wide ever since she arrived at Arsenal so the only goals she gets are “crots”. She isn’t and never was a winger.

Armchair

One thing I noticed in the ManCity game is that while Foord is a better scorer than Mead, she does not seem to be very effective at pressing or challenging the ball. ManCity broke past her with the ball quite a lot in that match, which led to problems for us on her side of the field. That is where their goals came from. She’s one to take advantage of defensive attention to Miedema, which is good, but not great at providing crosses into the box, etc. that I’ve noticed.

Eeleen

I would say that before Caitlin arrived, Beth had as much of freedom to move to middle. Her last season’s touchmaps were quite central in the end. But I agree, that we are using Beth wrong. She is not fast enough or good enough dribbler to be the winger in the level our opposition has. And in a way we have probably ruined her development by playing her there. But in the end, Viv is better, so she is the striker and Beth, if she wants to play, had to be accomodated. We are seeing now Joe’s “lets play players… Read more »

Armchair

Yes, agree about McCabe: solid LB but has been up against it in these matches against big rivals. She was much more influential as a winger two years ago when both she and Evans /Mead were lasering balls into the box. Now, we spend most of our time trying to get the bal out of our defensive half and crosses into the box have gone begging.

Peter Story Teller

Because Joe thinks Leah moves the ball forward too quickly apparently! Any slower and we will not cross the half way line for the entire 90 minutes!

Armchair

None of our forwards have been effective against the top teams because we’ve struggled to get the ball into the attacking half–and when we do nobody can find any space. We’ve rampaged against the lower tier teams and then struggled mightily to find space/get forward in the big matches–partly if not mostly because our forwards have had to track back to help defend/win balls in these games, which makes it harder for everyone to get forward.

Eeleen

Yeah, this season for me midfield is the problem. We get the ball to the middle of the pitch but not higher. I know lot people here love Jill, but she is not a creator. And facilitating her, we ask Viv to drop deep and Beth to be the main creator. As long as we have Viv, we should play to get the best out of her. Jordan’s/Kim’s injuries are one thing but even with players we had yesterday Dvd would be better in creative role. Beth is at her absolute best day 70% passer, she can’t be the player… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

What makes anyone think Beth England would leave Chelsea for Arsenal?

Armchair

Is she playing regularly for Chelsea now? I thought she’d been crowded out somewhat by Kerr and Harder. She had a big year last year but don’t know what her situation has been this year and haven’t seen yesterday’s match.

Lamzo

Why is nobody looking at Salmon at Bristol City? I’m pretty sure Man United will go for her next seoson.

Eeleen

I would take Salmon from Bristol in a heartbeat. Viv or without Viv. She is type we are missing the most, pure speed….

Peter Story Teller

Good call! Even though Bristol are struggling she is on the top scorers list. More chance of her coming to Arsenal than attracting Beth England.

E-gooner

If I were Hayes and I would have the choice, I would put Miedema in my squad and sell Kerr – no doubt.

Seriously: I hope we can find a solution to keep our key players and make Arsenal great again (!!!)

Armchair

Kerr is explosive physically but a suspect finisher. What’s weird is that she was a decent/above average finisher in the NWSL in America–and the NWSL has some good goalkeeping talent–but her finishing with Chelsea has been dire. The number of teams that Miedema could sign with is tiny. There are a small number of strong teams with the budget to sign her in women’s football–I count about 9–and most already have star forwards. I could see her with Wolfsburg but she came from the German league and didn’t much like it. I can’t see her in Spain. France only has… Read more »

Xuan

To be honest, maybe it is the resignation that we will lose Viv that i say it may not be a bad thing if we can rebuild and not be so reliant on one player.

The small problem is that i dont know if we have the ideas and means to attract the right players or rejuvenate the existing ones!

Marco

Never trust a manager that consistently says transition instead of counter attack which really gets my goat.

Des

We need a new manager this guy is hopeless. We seem to get worser every year. Sack him now.

Lamzo

I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs a new contract. I don’t think the owners care much about the ladies team.

Peter Story Teller

I know the owners don’t care about any of the teams!

Will

The reason we all liked Joe when he first came in is because he seemed to have a genuine connection with the girls and appeared to be a good man manager. Not only have we deviated from the good football we used to play in 18/19, they don’t really look like they’re playing for him. His biggest selling point has gone. You can’t tell me Viv is particularly bothered right now and why should she be?

E-gooner

But she *does* look bothered – for me, that’s a sign there is at least some fire left.

Chrishgooner

I agree that Joe’s “selling point” is his personality and the rapport he appeared to quickly establish with the squad he inherited from Pedro Losa. With the addition of Lia Walti it was this squad that carried us to a well deserved title win in 2019. Where did it all begin to unwind? Apart from the 5 -0 thrashing of Chelski, which established the belief for the title win, we haven’t beaten them since and even in that season the annoying “habit” of losing in Manchester was already established. In my opinion, Joe’s tactical limitations (stubbornness?) were exposed 13 months… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

I have to admit I couldn’t waste another 90 minutes of my life watching Leah and Lotte play the ball sideways between each other so my comment is based on the published reports and stats: We had 65% possession away from home with the same number of shots at goal (8) as Chelsea and we lose 3-0. Doesn’t matter what you think of Emma Hayes’ coaching ability she got a 3-0 win from half of the possession and 8 shots! We got more lame excuses with Joe just using the same rubber stamp quotes that he does after each dismal… Read more »

Goonersince55

To be slightly less pessimistic, I felt that our performance wasn’t as bad as 3-0 might indicate. I also thought that Lia played well, but between her and the forwards there’s a vacuum. Without Kim our midfield is missing or simply overwhelmed. We don’t seem to have adjusted to the quick-reacting physical game that women’s football has now become. When I look back at the World Cup final (in which our three Dutch players appeared) I see the same pattern – domination by quick-thinking physically strong players reducing the opposition to anonymity (and the victory margin only kept down by… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Agree about lack of physicality in our squad and it has increased in WSL because of the introduction of the overseas players (especially USA) brought in by other teams.
I thought Caitlin would add a bit of toughness when she arrived but even she was getting shrugged off the ball by Lucy Bronze and the little terrier that we once had in DvD has gone AWOL.

Lamzo

Lia was outstanding, and after the match she stood there in disbelief! To be honest, I’m surprised Lisa Evans starts. She can’t pass, dribble and tackle. She just keeps on jumping around waving her hands. A team like Arsenal needs quality not average players.

E-gooner

She certainly wasn’t very good yesterday (who was?), but I think in general, she is a very good player. Quick, versatile. I’d rather see her on the wing than at the back, but she can do both

Eeleen

I like Lisa a lot and if used right, she can be very useful squadplayer for us with her versatility. But in 4 years and 75 games she has scored 5 goals and has 8 assists all together and half of those game in that one Bristol game. Without it, she as 3 goals and 5 assists in 4 years. Harder/Kirby and Hemp/Kelly have more in last 4 games. If we want to be real about our player quality, that is it.

Armchair

No, she’s not as good as some or any of the players you mention–but I’m curious to know how many of those 75 matches has she played at outside back as opposed to wing? You’re not going to score, generally, from the fullback position.

Armchair

Yes, one can certainly question the signings–especially because half of them tend not to play even half the matches because of injury. Catley has not played AT ALL. When ManCity adds Mewis and Bronze and Arsenal add nobody, effectively, AND lose on average 2-3 starters to injury EVERY match–including LIttle (vital player) who has missed most of this year, and are playing inexperienced defenders, I can’t generate the emotional outrage at losing that others feel. It’s to be expected–though nobody expects to lose. Chelsea and ManCity are very quick team–very quick to the ball–and that pressing has caused us lots… Read more »

Man Manny

It seems this guy is just paid to react to defeats.

Eddy F

I only watched the first half, but Arsenal were dominant and were keeping the ball away from Chelsea for fun at times. But this was happening in the middle third of the pitch and they were really struggling to progress the ball into the penalty area. That definitely needs to improve. If they’d scored a couple in the first half I imagine it would’ve turned out differently. No idea what happened in the second half but it doesn’t sound good. Arsenal appear to be at a standstill the last few years while Chelsea, Man City and now Man Utd are… Read more »

Chrishgooner

A bit of a strawpole……
How many contributors to these feedback discussion are AWFC members and go to Meadow Park to physically support the team?
(Covid restrictions accepted of course).

Peter Story Teller

I have been to the ground infrequently but for me it is a 270 mile round trip taking about 6 hours by car so with work and other commitments it has to remain “infrequent”!

Peter Story Teller

I do always watch the games on FA Player though even if it is a dreary draw vs Reading or yet another loss to City and Chelsea!

Goonersince55

Yes, I’m an AWFC member and go to most home matches (two trains, but an easy journey). I can also get to away matches at Brighton, West Ham Spurs and Chelsea. One of the best things about the WSL is how nice it to have friendly chats with opposing fans.

Armchair

Saw a chart today that purports to show which WSL midfielders are safe in possession, which are creative with the ball/passes, which have both qualities and which are not especially safe or creative. Among Arsenals mids, Walti was the safest with the ball but the least creative, which has been an observation of mine. LIttle and DvD are somewhat less safe but somewhat more creative than Walti (but neither ranks as especially creative). Roord is the best of the four–the most creative and safer in possession that Little and Dvd though not as safe as Walti. It might figure that… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Regardless of the subject matter stats can be made to suggest what you want them to depending on what data you use and how you choose to present it. Ultimately, I think we can all agree that we do have some outstanding players and some good players but until something about our set up radically changes we are going to be repeating this conversation week in week out. Oh well, at least City did us a favour tonight by sticking 3 past Utd. Beat Villa, Birmingham then Utd and suddenly Europe does not seem such a distant dream after all,… Read more »

dirk

couldnt see Rose Lavelle. the most technical player in the WSL and beyond not getting game time, a loan move to Arsenal would be good

Bill Hall

The big question is do we think Joe can get back to his best when we won the title in 2018/19. I mean he was good enough then and the team haven’t suddenly become bad players? If we don’t think he can get back to that we need someone who can before we start losing people like Viv. On a positive note we can still make third place if we win all our remaining games, this includes a home match against Man U so the jury is out on that one. I don’t think we have any really tough games… Read more »