Aaron D’Antino reacts to victory over Slavia Praha

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Arsenal Women were 3-0 victors at home to Slavia Praha in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier thanks to goals from Nikita Parris, Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema.

Arsenal Head Coach Jonas Eidevall was unable to take the game as he finalises visas for his family in Sweden, so assistant manager Aaron D’Antino spoke to the press post match. The first three questions are from Arseblog News, the other three are from other Suzy Wrack at the Guardian.

On the performance…
It was a game of two halves, in the first half we really controlled the game. Our detail was there on the ball but also with our off the ball movement, we knew they would be aggressive in terms of man-marking so a lot of gaps did open up and we got a lot of joy in wide areas. Then in the second half they came out with more fight, they were moe physical and started the press a little higher. They started to cause us issues with the long ball and it was challenging for us in dealing with that but also dealing with the runners.

The second half became a lot scrappier and a lot more about us competing with them physically as opposed to controlling the game with the ball. In saying that, I think we deserved more goals tonight and there were some good opportunities, if we’d scored more of those I think the morale becomes higher but we summarised afterwards by saying there were some really good lessons learned tonight to take into the second leg and Sunday too.

On whether going wide in the first half was a deliberate tactic…
We definitely knew they would be man-marking so we know space would open up wide and we needed the bravery to exploit it with those third player runs into the area. Obviously we’d prefer that to be central as the best path to goal but as the game progressed it was congested in the middle of the park, we knew that was the space to go for. Once we did that, the next phase was to exploit the space in behind as early as possible.

On whether there will be any further transfers before Thursday’s transfer deadline…
I couldn’t tell you! That’s a Jonas question! My detail is watching videos and training, he’s the man doing the business so I can’t give you any goss….

On whether playing these qualifiers gives Arsenal a nice flow going into the Chelsea game…
I think a lot. I think it’s been great in terms of our preparation. It gave us a focus immediately in preseason from day one, knowing that these games were coming and it was going to be competitive earlier than the season. It gives you a different mindset going into pre-season. With the way it played out with the Olympic girls not being around it gave everyone an opportunity to really show Jonas what they are about early on.

There are some really good lessons learned in todays match which I think are going to put us in a really good place for Sunday as well as next week. We want to be in Europe so whenever the games come we have to be prepared to play. It’s been positive from the first day.

On how the midfield three of Little, Maanum and Iwabuchi combined tonight….
Amazing, amazing. To be able to watch the three combine in the middle of the park and just work, they were relentless, it’s a real joy. The scary thing is we still have a long way to improve. They’ve barely bee together so it’s only going to get better.

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Henkamp

I guess they’d our ladies would be fitter than Chelsea’s come Sunday. Hope that would count for a lot.

Loved the fact that the likes of Viv were rested.

Still think that midfield 3 would not work against a really good team; need Lia in there, somehow. All in all, great game today.

Eelleen

Agree with you about midfield. It got the job done today, but in long run, I don’t see this combination as secure enough against Chelseas and Citys. Honestly I would like to see Mana higher up the pitch. Felt we lost some of her magic today in so deep. But against lesser teams, it is one option to have.

Henkamp

My thoughts, exactly. The current set up would work against teams that sit deep. A midfield 3 of Lia/Maanum, Little, and Iwabuchi/Nobbs is cool against the lesser teams. Hope Eidevall recognizes that and provide stronger security against the elite teams. Don’t want us to get blown away against Chelsea, like last season.

Chris

We looked strong down both flanks and Mana and Frida combined well with Kim in the first half.
Early days, but there now seems to be a plan B and C developing if A isn’t working. When the subs came on tonight the change to more direct play soon paid off with the Beth-Viv combination for the third goal.

Eelleen

It is fun to see the changes Jonas has already done to the team and our playing style. Love the pressing. Love the rotation of players. At moments I felt we went too much for crosses only, but seems from the interview that it was hopefully opposition specific. Besides we have a lot of quality in wide this year. Keets and Beth seem to be pushing each other on, both have started season very well. I only have a nagging doubt that Katie and Steph in the same wing won’t be as good as we would like it to be… Read more »

Peter Story Teller

Yeah that was strange! Katie and Steph are both bombers down the touch line and did appear at times to be hindering each other. Perhaps it is because Katie has spent the last couple of seasons having to play that role and needs time to adjust her game back to being further forward.
Curiously on the other wing, Noelle, Keets, and later Meado integrated better.
Really impressed with Noelle of late and she no way deserved the yellow. I doubt she would have got that in the WSL.

Eelleen

I just think that both of them thrive with player who occupies the inside channel. Katie was our best player in both preseason games, first with Noelle as LB behind her and in second with Lisa as LW. Both rightfooters who went inside. Neither Steph or Katie want to move inside naturally, as you said down the touchline bombers. It might just need time to click, but I would play either Beth or Keets or Mana in LW against Chelsea and either one of them as LB.

Peter Story Teller

Frida Maanum won’t grab headlines but I predict she will be massive for this team. Still young but looks at home and confident already after only a few weeks!

All in all a professional performance. Not sure what Slavia can offer next week but on tonight’s evidence they will struggle to score 4 without reply!

Goonersince55

I felt there was a greater sense if security when Lia came on. It also allowed Frida to play further forward where she looks really dangerous. I’d’ve liked one or two more goals to make the second leg in Prague a mere formality.

Now for Chelsea, which could be season-defining match. Come on everybody – let’s get to the Emirates and really cheer them on!

Goonersince55

“of security”, clumsy fingers..

Fun Gunner

What pleased me most about this game was the aggression and frontfootedness shown by the players. One touch football with passes zipped in, not gently rolled to the recipient. Instant, purposeful, intelligent pressing when we lost possession. Competing for every ball. Loved it. Yes, we should have scored more but that will come as the players get used to their new style
Frida Maanum = Beast. With impeccable technique. We have recruited so well this window.

Xuan

First half superb. Just need to be more efficient in putting away chances.

Still a couple of nervy moments at the back.

If we go for a 4-3-3, think the balance upfront would be one speedy winger type like mead, katie, parris, and one that can come in, hold up play like foord, mana.

My preferred midfield trio against stronger opponents would be wälti-little-maanum/nobbs with mana higher up.

DaDude

Wasn’t able to watch that unfortunately, but congratulations to the ladies. A focused performance in the 2nd leg should ensure CL football. All the best of luck for the domestic and European campaign. I made a resolution for this season to make time and watch more games of the women, as I think the cause is worth supporting. The ladies are also a part of Arsenal and even though they get far less attention, I have the feeling that better and more honest work is being done in this section of our great club at the moment. Thanks go out… Read more »