It might be surprising to learn that Vivianne Miedema has only completed 90 minutes once so far this season, in the 3-2 victory over Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the WSL campaign. She has been substituted eight times, used as a substitute once and been an unused sub on one occasion too.
Leah Williamson, Steph Catley, Beth Mead, Kim Little, Frida Maanum, Katie McCabe and Noelle Maritz have all clocked up more minutes than Miedema so far this season. More often than not, Australian forward Caitlin Foord has come on in her place to close out games. In his pre Hoffenheim press conference, Arseblog News asks Jonas Eidevall whether this is a tactical or a loading decision.
“The way we want to press from the front is very demanding, especially for the centre-forward. In most teams, the centre-forward is the most commonly substituted player because it is so physically demanding.
“But it is about getting that balance right too because every player likes to play the full 90 minutes so we have to be a little aware of that too. I cannot get into the habit of only playing a player for 60 or 70 minutes all the time either.
WSL's best player? 🤔
Kelly Smith analyses the qualities of Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema and explains why she's such an asset to the team. pic.twitter.com/LW3ZlXaH8f
— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) October 11, 2021
“But it’s a mixture of tactical and loading perspectives, as well as just seeing how the game develops.” Eidevall also says there is an element of pre planning to his substitutions.
“I think the concept of starting 11 and finishing 11 is really, really important for us. I think we’ve seen in many of our games, our subs have made a real clear and positive impact. That has been a real strength of ours during the season so far. I think about it a lot before the game. From a strategic point of view, I think that is important.
“You can often see with your own playing style, but also the opponent’s, how things go on and I think it’s a typical mistake that you do as a young coach, or when you’re early on in your coaching career, we try to find all the clear and nice moments where your opponent plays that will most typically, for example, be in the beginning of a half, because everything is so structured, the players are doing exactly what everybody has agreed to do and it’s just nice for your brain because everything is organised.
“But then maybe you come to the 60th minute, and you feel like the players are getting more tired, the game gets more unorganised, maybe spaces open up a little bit more. That will be different for different teams. Some teams will lose their organisation after 10 minutes.
“Some teams can keep it for 90 minutes, but you will always have an idea about that, that you can also fit in players that will fit very well into those situations. For me, some players will fit better to start the game sometimes in the way that we want to do it and we think the game will go one way. It’s good for us to substitute in other players.”
Arsenal will be facing another of Europe’s in-form strikers on Thursday evening when they take on Hoffenheim in Austrian striker Nicola Billa, who was the top scorer in last season’s Frauen Bundesliga.
An international teammate of Viki Schnaderbeck and Manu Zinsberger, Eidevall acknowledges that Billa will be one of Hoffenheim’s chief threats on Thursday at Meadow Park.
“She is a really effective goal scorer, she is one of those strikers who is not so involved in the rest of the game but she is very dangerous in and around the penalty area. She is a very, very good finisher.”