Joe Montemurro reacts to victory over Manchester United

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Arsenal survived a second half Beth Mead red card to beat Manchester United 2-0 in the WSL on Friday evening with goals from Jill Roord and Lotte Wubben-Moy. Joe Montemurro spoke to the press post match. The first three questions are from Arseblog News, the others from other journalists.

On not controlling the game in the first half after taking the lead…
I wasn’t happy at half-time, more structurally. We felt that their two 10s were pushing right on and we weren’t dealing with it. They had numbers up top and it became a bit transitional and then our distances got too long so our midfield couldn’t support our attacking third. We lost our defensive shape which allowed them a couple of moments that could have hurt us. It’s not so much the possession but more in the structure and in the second half we dealt with it and we got a lot better.

On whether Arsenal thought they could expose United’s weakness from set pieces…
We do a lot of work in general on set pieces but we felt there was an area where we could get something and congratulations to Lotte and the guys on the coaching staff. They did a lot of work in the week on blocking and giving Lotte the opportunity to go at goal and she did really well.

On Lotte Wubben-Moy’s performance….
(Leah and Jen’s absence) made things a lot more difficult in terms of options but we’re proud of Lotte and what she does and how she represents the club. She’s true Arsenal but the thing I am loving is that in every game and every training session she is just growing and growing and growing. We haven’t seen the best of Lotte yet and she’s an absolute treat to coach.

On how the team performed when Beth Mead was sent off…
We weren’t nervous, we had to focus on working for each other and reduce the spaces for them to play. We knew we wouldn’t have the ball as much so it was a matter of making sure that we were focused and able to ride that period out. That’s where the strength of the group and the players wanting to give for each other comes out. Players had to do things they don’t enjoy doing but they did it for the group and that’s where the character of this team came through.

On the importance of qualifying for the Champions League…
This is an attractive club and a club players want to come to and of course playing on the highest stage in Europe makes it all the more attractive. Our aim is always to be in the upper echelon of European and English football we believe in what we’re doing and we’ll continue to fight.

On a feisty game…
We knew they’re a team that press and enjoy the physical aspect of the game so we had to match that and be smart about how we went about it. It was always going to be a game of that nature with both teams fighting for that spot in the Champions League and we knew today’s game was going to be very important towards that.

On the mood of the players in the dressing room…
I haven’t been in there yet but the music is blaring so there is a lot of excitement and joy but there are lots of important games to go and we cant lose focus and think that winning this game has done the job. We’ve got an important game against Tottenham next week and we’ll start work on that.

On Manu Zinsberger making long clearances more than usual…
We knew there would be space through our full-backs and Manu was instructed to go into those areas and we got a fair bit of success out of it and we had a player coming underneath so we were able to expose them. It was part of it but not the only option.

On how Kim Little controlled the midfield in the second half…
Kim doesn’t say much but she leads with actions and today she was mammoth in terms of controlling when we needed to slow the game down and break it and controlling when we needed to speed it up. That’s why she is the player she is and I love working with her.

On getting valuable momentum with three wins on the bounce…
Momentum has probably been our biggest issue this year with the way the fixtures have fallen. It’s been great to get going with more regular games and when you have momentum and things are going your way it keeps rolling.

On the refereeing performance…
I learned early in my coaching career not to comment on referees, they’re there to officiate. They’ll make mistakes, they’ll see things we don’t see I believe that refereeing decisions don’t determine games, it’s football that matters. Even if a decision goes against you, you make up for it one way or another if you keep doing the right things on the pitch and on the ball.

On Leah Williamson’s injury…
She’ll be ok, she just copped a whack on her leg, it was a dead leg and it just didn’t clear up well and we didn’t want to take the risk. We had a scan and it was clear, there was just a bit of blood there. There was just a bit too much pain in training. Leah should be back next week.

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Jacques

Much more feisty affair than the final score. But that miss by James in the 1st half..🤣🤣🤣

Viv The 🐐

They could have scored 4 easily in the first half. Going 1-0 up was the steal of the century.

trugun

Can anyone tell me if Anouk Denton was transferred or loaned to West Ham?

Tim Stillman

Loaned. I asked Joe on Thursday.

trugun

Many Thanks

Christopher Humphrey

Well done girls. A gutsy, feisty performance epitomized particularly by LWB and a captain’s show from Kim👏👏👏

Peter Story Teller

To me that was probably the best performance of the season. At least CL qualification is back in our own hands now. Good to see Manu clearing long to mix things up a bit and how much easier is it to defend when the ball is at the other end while we were a player short? On that subject, I agree with Casey Stoney. The referee was shite. She succumbed to pressure from Stoney to “protect” James and give Meado a first yellow card for a tackle that was barely worth a foul and all the while Toone could kick… Read more »

Xuan

To be fair the level of refreeing is not any better anywhere else in the game today… 😀

Armchair

Best performance of the season? Hmm. I’ve only watched the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half–and Arsenal were very good up until Mead got sent off. Got a corner and scored off it and created a couple of other opportunities that went begging. That said, ManU completely bossed the first half after the Arsenal goal and should have had at least one goal. Arsenal had the same problem in the first half they’ve had in all the big matches this year–the team struggled to get the ball out of its defensive half. We got dispossessed a lot or were… Read more »

Tim Stillman

In many respects I don’t know how I feel about this performance even if the result was great. I agree that in the first half we were probably a bit lucky and I can’t see why Jordan isn’t considered in midfield now. DvD and Jill just aren’t as effective against the press and while I understand the ‘go backwards to go forwards’ thing, I think Jordan gives us quality and variety in there. She doesn’t struggle like the others in tight spaces. We saw DVD’s qualities when we went down to 10 and she was excellent at fighting for the… Read more »

Xuan

I think what we are lacking is that spontaneity to take on and beat the player to create space. All the top teams have players who can and will do that. Whether on the flank or in central midfield.

In our case, the best bet would be nobbs in midfield. At the moment i think we need little to sit deeper to keep the ball, else she would be perfect higher up.

Peter Story Teller

Agree Tim. That is what I meant. We changed our play to suit what was in front of us and that is what we have failed to do in the disappointing losses to City, Chelsea and even the Reading draw.
Ironically, it was probably because we were without Leah that we had to try something different and on the night it worked!
Let’s hope we learnt something and can apply that in future tough games.

trugun

Couldn’t agree more where Jordan is concerned been saying for months it doesn’t make sense either not playing her or sticking her out on the wing. One of the best English midfielders, and, yet JM seems determined to get rid, if Jordan walks away it will be down to Joe.

Peter Story Teller

If you only watched 20 minutes of the second half how do you know what happened in the first? As for performance, it is not just about possession statistics or creating chances. It is about grinding out a result against the odds. If we do the same against City and Chelsea and you all come on here and say they had all of the ball and we were lucky but we beat them 1 or 2 nil I will take that as a good performance too. It’s all very well playing “ideal” photogenic football but it doesn’t always win games… Read more »

Viv The 🐐

The first half was lucky to say the least. The moment Kim, Katie and Lia (?) discussed how to defend in the 9th minute (after losing posession and somehow clearing it for a throw) epitemzed the first half. We could not get out of our own half and reminded me more of City away in the first half. The second half was partly calmer and we started to do something! (Just something). If United were any clinical, they would have won easily. I think Chelsea at home was the best performance, if not the best result. And Lotte was much… Read more »

Xuan

We improved in the 2nd half, a real shame that mead got herself off to change the dynamics. I thought we did really well with 10, never really had a scary moment.

Little is just immense and gave a reminder of how good she is, keeping the ball. Calmed things down.

I thought foord also put in a real shift, and lotte was solid as well.

JohnnyCash

I think Mead is useless. Winger must be productive. Without goals and assists, without work in defense – who needs this?

Armchair

Mead put in a ton of defensive work yesterday and had some good moments with the ball. She created a nice chance for herself early in the second half with a nifty move and and then a left-footed shot that didn’t miss by much–and she created a couple of corners in the first half. I thought both she and Foord played hard. I agree that Mead hasn’t been as influential this season as she’s been in recent seasons–or maybe it’s just that she’s not been as influential in the big games–but that’s been true of the front line generally, mostly… Read more »

Timorous Me

Between Kieran Tierney and Katie McCabe, I have to say I’m kind of in love with both of our left backs. I’m not sure how well Katie stacks up to other left backs in the WSL, but I always find myself really enjoying watching her play.

Ed

She’s suspect defensively for sure, but offensively she’s the best in the league by far, she basically plays as a winger against smaller teams. A typically gritty performance yesterday!

Peter Story Teller

And she was the one who Utd targeted for their routine fouls because they know she is dangerous!
Just like we did with James…….apparently!

Viv The 🐐

The modern fullback so to speak.Which fullback at a worldclass level, was worldclass in defending? But that is how it is.
But I got very little problem with her, regarding that I hardly know how Catley plays.

Peter Story Teller

That’s the real issue here, isn’t it? Katie is not a full back. The Arsenal website catagorise Katie (and Lisa for that matter who has reverted to her correct position since Noelle arrived) as a “forward” but she has filled in for several seasons with Joe’s “utility player” mentality. Our real left back is Steph Cately who, of course, never seems fit to play. In her hybrid role I think Katie has been exceptional but she isn’t the best left back in the world and I very much doubt that she wants to be. Once we get a reliable defensive… Read more »

dirk

The game quality resembled a relegation clash rather than 2 teams challanging for UCL.
The ref set the tone for the ensuing kick fest by not booking Toone early on.
McCabe is the best full back around (better than Bronze is on the right side) but doesnt get the recognition that she defends as well as attacks , has good positional sense .
Was the plan to have less posession 38% ? knowing that man utd didnt have a clue or the ability to do anything with it.

Peter Story Teller

Doesn’t matter about posession. You don’t get points for posession!
All that mattered in that game was Arsenal 2, Man Utd 0 and we came out of it with no injuries.
Unfortunately, Meado will have a suspension unless we appeal the first yellow which we should because it was nonsense. As you say, the ref lost control of the game the first time Katie was wiped out.
It is about time we discovered how to grind out a result instead of sticking to “our game plan” and losing!

Armchair

I’m a McCabe fan but it’s utterly comical to assert that she’s better than Bronze. Not even close. I think she’s a solid defender but I’ve seen her struggle in matches. Bronze regularly takes the ball up the field on the dribble; she can drive inside and get forward. I rarely if ever see McCabe drive inside and up the field with her right foot, which I don’t think is all that good. That is one (among other) reasons why Arsenal struggle to break the high press. Bronze breaks the press by beating her mark with the ball and getting… Read more »

Viv The 🐐

I haven’t seen many games of Bronze, but in the games against us, you could see, she was a level ahead of pretty much everyone …. at RB. In a general thought, that whole “best in the league” thing is used by everyone and through that, it loses credibility by the minute. Though I think Katie does a very good job, though she tries some incredibly risky things at the back. PSG just comes to my mind.

Armchair

Right: Toone uses two hands to try and yank Foord off the ball–and not only was she not carded, but the ref cautioned Foord after the play for getting pissed and pushing Toone!

Less possession by Arsenal would be OK if we could generate more serious counters–but I don’t think we do often enough. It’s interesting that one can frequently see these stampeding, rather beautiful counters in the EPL but I rarely see them in the WSL.

Peter Story Teller

You have to wonder if that is due to ‘one dimensional Joe’s’ tactics where everything has to begin and progress through Leah. Because Leah was not there that ideology could not be implemented and some of the players actually tried something different. Manu even had the audacity to kick the ball upfield ffs a move that she gets reprimanded for in training so she says. Ok it wasn’t pretty but we beat Man Utd and slapped another 3 points on the table! I know this year it is out of reach but League titles are won on games like that… Read more »

Viv The 🐐

I mean, we could not hold onto the ball in the first half in a general sense. No 4 stringent passes anywhere and losing it cheaply in midfield (or before the halfway line) and after the red card, we just tried to bring it over the line. No one should be surprised about low Posession after that. Sounds stupid, but in this way, you cannot have more than 50%.

Goonersince55

Yes, there were problems in the first half with keeping possession, but what really pleased me was how we adapted and improved. Although Lauren James was a handful at first, as the game went on Noelle got her measure, and in the end she was substituted. In the second half Captain Little became more and more dominant and was running the game. Even after going down to ten players it was a very disciplined performance. All the plaudits for Lotte are thoroughly deserved! Did anyone else notice the travesty of a report on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning? “Casey… Read more »

Armchair

Yes, I can’t imagine what Stoney was referring to with her ref comment–a completely silly remark on her part given that ManU were treated well. I was very surprised that Stoney subbed off James given the problems she caused Arsenal in the first half–and she’s going to cause problems for a lot of defenders because she is quite stocky and strong and yet mobile, with good ball skills. She attracted a lot of defensive attention from Arsenal, and I wonder if she doesn’t run out of gas or lose focus a bit when it gets into the 2nd half, especially… Read more »