Arsenal opened their WSL season with a 3-2 victory over Chelsea at Emirates Stadium thanks to goals from Vivianne Miedema and a second half brace from Beth Mead. Tim Stillman spoke to coach Jonas Eidevall post match. The first three questions are from Tim, the rest from other journalists.
On pushing Katie McCabe very high in the build up with Frida Maanum tucking in behind her at left-back at times….
We wanted to create more space and time for ourselves in the build up to pin some of their players who we knew would want to press. They pressed and we didn’t have much time in build up but we were able to exploit the space in behind the players that pressed. That worked really well as long as we had the runs in behind, which we had for the fist 30 minutes.
We stopped doing that at the end of the first half and then we ran into problems. But i was very pleased with the first 30 minutes and I think that was an example of us being a better at playing out from the back against a team that presses you.
On switching Beth Mead and Mana Iwabuchi in the second half…
To be fair it ended up like that after a set piece and we just decided to let them stay so it’s no credit to me. That’s what is happening in football, it’s more a player sport than something like the NFL, you need to let the players say when something is working and the players need to be knowledgeable to solve those situations.
THIS is what it means ❤️ pic.twitter.com/PuKWfkj52o
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 5, 2021
On his nerves in the final 20 minutes…
It was a learning opportunity for us, if we want to be a great team we need to be able to defend as a unit when needed, even if we are tired and we need to make substitutions because we are forced to and we need to stay organised. We need to be clever and calm enough to protect the spaces that we choose to protect.
I am not nervous in those situations because I am looking to see how the team is doing and that’s where my focus is. I don’t think it’s possible to be nervous and to be focused on a task at the same time. I have to stay task focused. The next time you are looking for tactical things Tim, you can try the same and you will have a nicer ride and better for your heart!
On whether this was a statement win…
In some respects, the way we played out from their pressure in the first 30 minutes and the way we defended in the last 30, those were nice aspects. We know we have a good squad and we are a big club, for us it’s about performing in every game. We will learn and develop during the season, it’s just one game out of many. It wasn’t perfect, I am new to English football and I made some tactical mistakes, I need to learn from today too.
On Beth Mead scoring twice after a summer in which Arsenal have brought in Nikita Parris and Tobin Heath…
It’s not a problem, we need to rotate, we want to play a lot of games and we want to make substitutions in games too. I am not a fan of thinking that playing lots of games is a problem, the best teams play lots of games. If you want to be a top player you need to play a lot of games. I love her first goal as well because it was an unselfish finish, that was the selfless action. It is easy in that situation to look for the pass but it wasn’t on and she took responsibility, it was the correct, brave decision. Everyone here is competing for spots, Beth has had a really good pre season, she has been dangerous offensively and she works hard defensively.
On defending central areas and allowing Chelsea to put crosses into the area…
Chelsea is very good at attacking space between full backs and central defenders, they do that constantly. They don’t want to cross the ball, they want the full-back to commit and play the ball in behind. We covered that space with our midfielders in the first half, but we tired we conceded some chances in that respect. So we chose to stay narrow and say ‘let them cross.’ We know that’s not their preferred option but we knew we had a lot of players in the middle to stop the cross. We looked comfortable with it and made good decisions under pressure. Sometimes you need to clear the ball and not play yourself into trouble and we did that when we needed to.