Saturday, July 13, 2024

‘If you don’t try you will never succeed’ Jonas Eidevall ahead of Barcelona test

Jonas Eidevall spoke to the press ahead of Thursday evening’s big match against Barcelona at Emirates Stadium. Tim Stillman was there for Arseblog News as ever. On this occasion, we’ve decided to reproduce the press conference pretty much verbatim. The first two questions are from Arseblog News.

On whether there were any learning points in how well Chelsea counter-pressed on Sunday…
What Chelsea did very well was that quality to get the ball forward very quickly, either by dribbling or by making a quick pass. They were excellent at that on Sunday and that’s because they have really, really good players. Counter-pressing can come from very different situations, we are very different to Chelsea in what situations we would like counter-pressing to appear from we like to be more structured in that approach. But, when we win the ball up high and we did have some of those moments on Sunday, we did not have the same quality to play the ball forward and we weren’t successful in those moments and we need to improve on that so we can get more out of winning the ball high up the pitch.

On Joe Montemurro’s recent interview talking about how the ball is in play for up to 10% longer in UWCL games compared to domestic games…
I wasn’t aware that there was a major difference between domestic games and Champions League games with the ball in play. I don’t know the reason, in England we have the one-ball system which affects the tempo that you can play in. It is very interesting in what you do when the ball is out of play. Football has a very clear rulebook in many situations when the ball is out of play and how long play must be restarted by but in practice it is very unclear. How many seconds do you have to take a throw-in? How many seconds do you have to take a goal kick? Even when the goalkeeper has the ball in her hands and the rules say she has to drop it within six seconds, it’s not that clear in practice with the way it is refereed. I tweeted about this many years ago, about effective time management from referees. This was in the men’s Premier League, there was a 20-minute difference between two rounds of games that the ball was in play and it was all because of the way the games were refereed. The difference was 45 minutes compared to 65 minutes. That is all down to how the game is played and also how long it is taking teams to do restarts.

Sometimes you will play a team who do long throw-ins and the left-back might go over to the right side to take a long throw and they are putting all of their players into the box and it takes one minute to take a throw-in and everyone says that’s ok because you are allowed to change personnel to take the throw-in. If the player who is closest to the ball picked up the ball to take a throw they would never be allowed to take one minute. For me that is very interesting and it’s interesting to understand how you can affect that. It is also a tactical thing too because it’s different playing when the ball is in play for 45 minutes or 65 minutes and you need to be aware of that.

On whether Jonas accepts that Arsenal will not dominate possession tomorrow…
Like I said after the first game, we need to defend better and we need to defend less and to defend less we need to have the ball more. We prefer to have the ball, with that being said, of course, even if we had possession against Chelsea we didn’t have any dangerous possession. That’s the thing we need to change, we didn’t create anything from our possession and they created from our mistakes in possession.

On the fitness of Tobin Heath and whether she will play before the Christmas break…
Tobin is not available tomorrow, she is not in full team practice yet but what that means for the remainder of this year, I don’t yet know.

On what will be different against Barcelona in reaction to Sunday…
From a mentality perspective, and what was really hurtful about Sunday was that if you put another jersey on the Arsenal players, you would never recognise it was Arsenal that was playing. We didn’t do the things that we do and that you would normally associate with us and that means that we are coming off from that game and we didn’t even try to play the way we wanted to play. Losing like that feels pointless. Mentally, that’s what we need to change going into the Barcelona game- if you don’t try you will never succeed. It’s about doing that and I am not going away from another game this season or any other season not trying. It all starts with that, it has to start with that and that’s how you build a winning mentality.

On how the approach will differ compared to the Barca game in September…
That’s a great question but no answer. I’m not going to give away anything!

On the game plan against Barcelona…
I believe in the game plan that we have, we learned things from playing them last time we learned things from studying them too. They are currently the world’s best club team so it’s a really exciting challenge. We need to have a really good game plan and to be excellent at executing that game plan.

On the biggest threat from Barcelona…
What sticks out is that how many ways they can create scoring opportunities. Usually you play against a team who will have a really obvious strength. Like Chelsea for example, who has an excellent counterattacking game and have so much pace upfront and you have to deal with that when you play against them. But when you play against Barcelona and you look at the game we played against them last time, they have great speed so they can get in behind you, which they did on two of the goals when we played them. They have really, really good players on the sides who can go one v one and provide assist passes or crosses and they are really good at attacking those crosses as well.

So they are really good at getting in behind, they are really good at exploiting the wide spaces as well so you can try to flatten out and kill that space behind you. But then you see their central midfield and that’s maybe their biggest strength, that they are so good at central combinations and third man play and penetrating passes. So you add that element and when you are looking for your defensive organisation, you need to deal with all three of those threats and that’s very difficult and requires a lot of concentration, you need to take the right decision at the right time. Sometimes it’s hard to do a lot of things because you need to choose and they are really good at choosing the right thing to do at the right time, they know when it is a good opportunity to pass, or to cross or to play the ball in behind or when is it a good opportunity to exploit central spaces?

That comes from playing together for a long time and having a collective idea of when to recognise those moments because it’s not enough for only one player to recognise the moment and that’s what makes football so fascinating. When you have many different tools, the players need to have that shared idea of when to use which tool. Barcelona is very mature at choosing the right tool at the right time, which makes them very difficult to play against and that’s why it’s very exciting to play against them but it’s also why they’re the best club team in the world.

On the importance of teamwork in overcoming Barcelona…
Football is always about being on the same page, you can’t do anything in football by yourself, especially at the top level. Football is all about having a collective understanding of what a team needs to do at a particular moment and that comes from understanding the trigger for the team to act that way. That is in defence, offence and transitions, you can’t achieve anything in football by yourself. It’s all about the team and understanding together and to have the right position and what to do together.

On why Jonas held up red and blue cards on the touchline at Wembley…
I was asked the question on Sunday whether we were surprised by Chelsea playing 442 and it wasn’t, we prepared for both scenarios (442 and 343) and it changed the way we pressed. We knew we were playing in a bigger stadium and it was just a colour code for our players to understand which formation they were moving to and that triggered the way that we pressed. It was just about making sure everyone got that message as quickly as possible. It was one way we wanted to try and be a little innovative with how we communicate.

On Jonas admitting after the first Barcelona game that he underestimated them…
You can’t learn without experiencing it, in any battle you go into it’s about assessing your own strengths against the opponent’s and if you get that wrong, you will get the game plan wrong. Either you overestimate or underestimate and it’s a coach’s job to estimate correctly and build a game plan around that and that’s what I meant when I said I got the game plan wrong last time, I either over estimated or under estimated them, either way and that meant the game plan was wrong. But it’s not an exact science and it’s hard to know that until you have experienced it. So now it’s easier, because you get to know your own team and you get to know the other team and that helps a lot.

On whether playing at Wembley on Sunday will help the players to adapt to the Emirates on Thursday…
I don’t know, I think I as a coach and the players are used to playing at big stadiums and so are Barcelona. For me it’s the reality we would like to have every time, we want to play in front of big crowds at nice stadiums. I don’t think that gives us a specific advantage but we have a specific advantage playing at home, in front of our own fans. Last time we played at the Emirates (in the opening day victory against Chelsea) the Arsenal fans helped us so much, it really felt like we had a 12th player and if anything, I hope we can create the same feeling and atmosphere again on Thursday.

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Jeremy DG

Let me save you some time. Weโ€™ll lose again, convincingly. Itโ€™s what we do in big games (throughout the club in general)


Jeez. I hope I’m not sitting next to you tomorrow!


This is where it starts to get interesting with the new manager now for me, a loss on Thursday is expected, the manner of the loss will hold more information as to whether he is the right appointment. Arsenal traditionally swipe aside the minnows, this season will show the progress against the elite, something that has to be on his must do list agreed when he took the job. The honeymoon period is well and truly over.


Against Barcelona in the first leg we had Leah, our best defender and they beat us badly. Now that Leah is not playing, it’s even worse. Our current defense can do whatever they want, they are just not at the top level to compete with that Barcelona team. Our only hope is to attack, attack and hope we get couple of goals to minimise the damage. Just hit the ball forward and hope our strikers put their defense under pressure. If we try to play them at their on own game they’ll punish us as our players are not confident… Read more ยป


Agree: Arsenal are not going to be Barca trying to play the ball out of the back. And we’re not going to beat Chelsea that way either. I think Arsenal need to play four in the midfield: focus on challenging and winning the ball more in midfield–and also, just lumping more balls forward and trying to win second balls. Forget pretty soccer–it won’t work. The Gunners obviously need more of the game to be played on the Barca defensive side–and so get the ball over there one way or the other, and see if you can win some challenges. The… Read more ยป

Gunner H

I feel in Leah’s absence, Kim should play as a defensive midfielder with Mana and Jordan ahead of her. And Anna or Noelle with Lia as the 2 CBs?
And how about starting both Viv & Caitlyn, which may shake it up, up front!


I agree with Kim on the defensive midfield role. With her awareness, she’ll be more helpful to the defense.
Mead, Viv and either Caitlyn or Parris upfront.


Anyone headed to the game tomorrow? I came over from the US for it and would love to meet up ahead of time with some other fans! Is there like a pub or something that arsenal womenโ€™s fans will meet up in? When we went to a menโ€™s game at the emirates we went to the tollington beforehand, will others be there?

Looking forward to the game!


I also came from the states just to see the game. ๐Ÿ™‚ will prob be at the Tollington (wearing a blue Columbia jacket)


I’m worried about the whole Tobin situation. It feels the same as United. Big deal in signing her, makes a big difference for the team. Then suddenly disappears due to an injury. And then the biggest issue is that there is no idea when she’ll be back. It’s a vague injury with a vague recovery. Either this is something Tobin demands, do not talk about my injury, or that there is something in her contract that allows her to take a bit of leave or something when she wants…

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