Arsenal were beaten 4-0 by defending champions Barcelona at Emirates Stadium on Thursday night. Jonas Eidevall spoke to the press post-match, the first two questions are from Arseblog News.
On playing with Caitlin Foord upfront and whether it was about being more direct…
It comes down to many things but one thing was in defence was about the structure we needed to have and the roles and responsibilities that need to be performed and the other thing is in offence and to try to get more possession and try to play out from their high pressure.
It was about looking at the qualities we have in the squad and where we think we can use them best to start the game and to finish the game. When you lose 4-0 it’s very hard to argue that you got everything right but the idea was very clear. The players worked very hard to execute that.
On playing Steph Catley at centre half…
It was a bit of both (her left footedness and her recovery pace). We don’t really have a naturally left footed centre back and when Barcelona press they very much press you to the sideline and you get very exposed if you can’t play through their wider pressure. Like the forwards it was about attacking and defending parts.
On how Arsenal get the momentum back after a tough week…
Football is mental as well and we need to take away some of the things we can learn and develop. At the same time we can’t forget what we have been doing really well this season and remind ourselves of that. The days leading up to the Leicester game and the Leicester game are really important to not let this define us, to understand the things we need to focus on and to move forward, it’s up to us to do it. Everybody understands that needs to be done but then you have to live by it.
On whether this Barca team gives him a benchmark to bring Arsenal to…
Yeah I think I can do that. Barcelona is a very mature team, they are very good at picking out the right pass in the right moment and knowing what space to attack. I would argue that before they scored their first goal, we defended very, very well and we kept them away from dangerous opportunities.
When you win the ball against Barcelona, you see, and I know Tim Stillman does some really, really good analytics after the game (I promise he said this!) and I think this one is really interesting because this one isn’t so tactical. When we win the ball against Barcelona you see there is so much space diagonally because all of their players go towards the ball, they are swarming the ball so there is so much space. It is evident for everyone that plays against Barcelona, they will be so exposed if you can get the ball out of that area.
When you play the ball up to the 9 up to Caitlin, their central defender will follow her anywhere, so the space behind her is so big. But this is not a tactical thing to be able to exploit that because the window of that opportunity is only open for a couple of seconds, maybe just one second. You have only one touch or one pass to get there and the only way to get there is to be really, really good at intercepting the ball and then passing it into the right area. With the right precision, you can execute that really, really well.
When you haven’t been exposed to that before, it’s a shock. That happened to us in the first game, this time we knew what was waiting for us. We did it a bit better but you can see if we want to take it to the next level then we need to design training exercises in order to be exposed to that as often as possible.
Some things are purely tactical and some things are just about doing on a habitual, instinctive level and counterpressing is one of them. The way they counterpress it requires so much from you to be able to play out of it even if you are aware that the spaces are there. That will be a key for anyone playing against Barca. They have such a good understanding, they are an inspiration for anyone working in a team sport.
On whether Barca have set a new standard in women’s football…
You have to ask how a team can become that mature and obviously time is an essential factor, to play together for a long time. They have a benefit that most other clubs don’t have because most of their starting XI is the Spanish national team starting XI. When Spain played Scotland, nine out of 11 players were Barcelona players.
When our players go away with their national teams for ten days, they all play different kinds of football, different formations and different philosophies. They spend so much time during a year doing something completely different that we do at club level. The Barcelona players go away and do the same thing with the same players. They keep working on those relationships year round and that’s a big, big benefit. Time is the factor and then what you do with it. We can see very clearly having played the two Champions League finalists from last year what we need to get to a Champions League final. It’s evident that we need to work in as good way as possible and on a longer timeframe to develop those things and I am very motivated by doing that.
On conceding the first goal on a big mistake…
It was not good from us because even if you defend very, very well they still might score a goal because they have exceptional qualities. Almost any team in the world would have scored from the situation we gave them. But that is football sometimes, that is life, you can do very good things then you make a mistake.
If you look at every big player in the world, they have all made mistakes in their career. It’s about how you act after that mistake, because it’s going to happen to all of us at some point. When you play against Barcelona you need to play the perfect game and that’s our ambition, to get to that and it was good to see that the players kept going and never gave up and that’s very good for our development and it shows the fans and the club the respect they deserve.
On whether there was progress from the defeat to Barcelona in October…
I saw progression and i told the players that after the game. I know it sounds empty when you lose 4-0 and I know you guys don’t see it either because it’s easy to be biased by the final score but from a structural point of view and how we worked in defence, we worked like crazy in Barcelona and we couldn’t get a hold of the game and they played us to pieces every time. Today we had a much better structure and we were able to win the ball in better places and in the way that we have our own possession, we made better situations but didn’t get the final pass right.
On leaving Vivianne Miedema on the bench…
We have a really tight playing schedule and we need to have a game plan for every game and there’s always tough competition at a club like Arsenal. I will always put the game plan above anything else. For me it was the right decision to start the players I did to perform the defending duties. In my view, it was the right decision to start with other players then have others coming in not finish the game.
On whether Vivianne Miedema was nursing an injury…
No, otherwise I would not have subbed her in.
On playing in front of 12,000 fans at the Emirates…
It was fantastic and they were so great, it was a tough game but the result and that we can’t create more but they were so enthusiastic and so behind us. We are grateful to play for such a great club with great supporters.
1.ZINSBERGER; 16.MARITZ, 5.BEATTIE (20.Boye ‘80), 7.CATLEY, 15.McCABE; 12.MAANUM (13.Walti ‘59), 10.LITTLE(c), 8.NOBBS (23.Iwabuchi ‘59); 9.MEAD, 19.FOORD (11.Miedema ‘59); 14.PARRIS.
Players technically defecient
Head coach tactically defecient
Barcelona 5 years gradual progression to reach their current performance level. Arsenal 5 months under Jonas.
Players technically efficient
Manager tactically inefficient
A better performance than Sunday but we were playing a better team than on Sunday.
It’s difficult to see how anyone will stop Barcelona!
Well, the bank might.
Ha ha! Well it has decimated thier men’s team, hasn’t it?
So Caitlin was creating space for other runners when she was betwixt our box & the half way line? Who? Mead and Parris were way back defending with no chance of getting up in time. Be realistic in games like this & just defend with nine and leave a nippy one up front – it worked out pretty well for Wrighty in the early days
But if you do that, they just press you to death, you need an exit strategy against them. If you stick none behind the ball it just means they’ll take the ball off you in front of your goal. I think the tactic we had was the most realistic way of playing tbh it’s just that this Barca team is so much better than everyone, us included. They beat Chelsea by the same score in last year’s final after all.
I wasn’t expecting to win, Barca are brilliant, but I thought our strategy was neither one or the other. They DID press us to death almost immediately and our forwards were back defending most of the match, so … Adapt! Jonas’s gameplan sounds wonderful it’s just not what I watched. Fair play to all the girls they never stopped trying. & Thanks for the excellent arsecasts Tim 👍
To be honest, im surprised how much Manuela Zinsberger has progress so far. She improved so much that she become our important player in big games. She is class on Barca away, FA final and today. I was frustrated when I knew Arsenal extend her contract but now I delighted that she proved me wrong.
I felt like having another so so much experience keeper to trained with and a lot of playing time help her a lot. I hope you can interview her in the future, Tim!
Manu put her body on the line tonight. I hope she is not too sore in the morning!
True, shes getting better and better. I heard fans in the stadium appreciate her and receive loud cheers. Good for her
Does he think we didn’t notice Viv pre game? No way is she 100% healthy she was garbing her hamstring before she even came on. But sure. Healthy. 100%.
How is Heath doing Jonas? Ask him that Timmy.
Yeah Tobin has to this point ended up being a pretty meaningless transfer in. Maybe brought some additional American eyes, but that’s about it. Let’s hope she can get healthy an make a difference in the rest of the season.
Beyond that, Barca are out of our class this year. The goal needs to be to finish top of the league ahead of Chelsea and to win a couple knockout matches in the CL.
He was asked in the pre match press conference and he said he didn’t know how long Tobin would be out for. Viv grabs her hamstring in every game.
That Tobin Heath update is so disappointing and frustrating.
Catley shouldn’t be a starting CB. Yes, our CBs aren’t exactly quick. If their recovery pace can’t be improved through coaching then we need to improve that area in the next transfer window. Ideally, we should be looking for a world-class left-sided CB to partner with Williamson. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Williamson extends her contract.
We should never be in a position where we beg players to extend contracts. It should be having the confidence to replace them ASAP. Otherwise what happens when they get injured. As far as i know that is the same as losing them, though temporarily.
I totally agree. If they don’t want to stay, we can’t beg them. If Leah really loves the club, and considering the WSL is one of the best leagues, why would she wants to go somewhere else? The way Barcelona are playing and the structure they have in place, it wouldn’t make any sense to go somewhere else and hoping to win the champions league other than them. If Barcelona comes for her and Viv, I would understand even though is highly unlikely as I don’t think the current Barcelona team need them. So, it would be better to stay… Read more »
Barca would be very interested in Viv, whether they can push the boat out given their financial issues is the question. Viv is an upgrade on Hermoso and Oshoala no matter how good they are and they signed Engen and Rolfo last summer.
The reality is the position Viv plays is not their weakness. They may come for her because she’ll be a free agent and will not have to pay to get her. Hermoso and Oshoala may not be as good as Viv but are doing enough to get the right balance for the team.
Oshoala is expected to leave at the end of the season but she’s still got time to change her mind and stay.
Viv is the best striker in the world, any team is stronger with her and she can ball too. She’s not just a penalty box beanpole, she can play.
I agree Tim and I’m regards to money, I believe that’s not the biggest trigger for Viv. She wants to win trophies with the team…
Didn’t you do a full article in the summer about money not being Miedema’s driving point. That it wasn’t about Arsenal offering Viv money to extend? If that’s the case Barca just have to let her know she’ll have a much better chance to win the CL title with them than with the current Arsenal.
Same time if Viv’s only aim is to win CL, she could have done it years ago because Lyon has always wanted her. Now it is the same with Barca. Viv’s desire to play in most competitive league has always been Arsenals biggest possible selling point to her. Sam Kerr extending with Chelsea, has been the most positive Viv news, because this is and will be my nightmare. My main doubt with Viv is that I am not sure that Viv much enjoys Jonasball. She has said many times that the football team plays is important, and at moment we… Read more »
Barcelona’s goal differential in the Spanish League last year was massive–I want to say 150+ or somesuch. Getting Viv would be overkill–but games like the last two aren’t going to persuade her to stay in red.
Oh, no! But she enjoyed playing for Sarina Wiegman in the Oranjeleeuwen (sp?), didn’t she? Is this your hunch or have you heard anything?
Yes which is why I think they would have a good chance, however, the rumblings are that Barca might struggle to keep this team together due to financial pressures, let alone add to it. Not sure how true that is, but if they can afford to match her Arsenal salary I think they’d have a good chance. But yes, the lack of competition in Spain would be a consideration, she always rejected Lyon for that reason in France.
Arsenal played too deep as team, and the back defenders were way too passive, in my view. When Parris and other attacking players are defending in our defensive corners, you’ve got problems–the main one being, when you get the ball, everybody is bunched together in the back: there’s no space, no easy outlet passes, and Barca’s press results in panicky clearances that go right back to them. Everybody asks about Miedema on the bench: There’s no point in playing her in games like this one and Chelsea when Arsenal can’t get the ball up the field. We’re three goals down… Read more »
I don’t think the tactic was to be that far back, that’s just what Barca do to you. Arsenal weren’t like that at the start of the game but when Barca get their claws in, you can’t get out.
That wasn’t an easy viewing at all. Unlike some others at least I wasn’t sitting directly under the pouring rain. You’d be forgiven for thinking Barca were the English side the way the ball kept sticking to their feet in those conditions.
It was a slightly better performance than last weekend with 2 efforts on goal. Nikita was somehow always isolated when defending, attacking and even in transition. Maritz often nowhere close.
Hopefully this is just a downturn in confidence and they’ll bounce back.
Well good news is at least it won’t get any tougher than last 2 games. We played two of the best teams in Europe who are both at least 3 years into their project. I was so annoyed with the first goal, because we just gave them it, after we had managed the start quite well and goal game from us having first stint of real possession and getting some passes going. But same time with new CB partnership these things happen and positive is that we were much better than Chelsea game. For me with Jonas the Viv thing… Read more »
Kudos to Tim on the shout out he earned from Jonas!
Watch how Barcelona play. They are a compact unit that follows the play around the pitch. Passes are quick because they are short and there are always 3 or 4 options. They don’t have structured lines of defence, midfield and strikers even at 3-0 up they were sending 9 players forward to just blitz whatever we could offer. They are not hoofing the ball anywhere, it is always close by and to feet. Sure, you need the players both in athleticism, speed of thought, and discipline to do it but that is what they have assembled over the last few… Read more »
I believe Jonas is a good Manager. He takes the blame when things don’t go right, he doesn’t throw his players under the bus when they make a mistake and he has a positive attitude that rubs off on the players. Their is only so much he can do technically/tactically, at some positions the players just aren’t good enough. He made a great point about Barca, playing them is like playing the Spanish National team. They have great players who play together year round, that is a tough nut to crack. Ask Chelsea about that one. Best hope for this… Read more »
I was struck again by the physical athleticism at the top of women’s football today. I remember matches against Manchester City last season where we were outmuscled by the likes of Sam Mewis and Lucy Bronze. I think our midfield especially struggles to compete at this level.
Think this is a legacy from Joe’s recruitment. He liked ball players to suit his possession style of football when sometimes you need someone with a bit of grit that laughs off the yellow cards they collect but make their presence felt. Barcelona are the best club team in Europe possibly the world right now but look at the treatment they handed out to Meado! They had identified that she was the most likely player to hurt them so they took her out of the game. Problem solved, no need to defend now let’s send 9 attackers forwards!
Arsenal have, and had, mids with grit–Little has it, Van de Donk certainly has it. But we certainly don’t have the cohesion back-to-front that a team like Barca has–and I don’t think our defensive group is special. I don’t see any real Lucy Bronze type talent–not even close. Williamson is good, and was missed, and I think Wubben-Moye will be a good/very good player, even if she was dire against Chelsea. But other than that? Who in the back does anything to help get the ball forward? We seem a very predictable, play-by-the-numbers, soft/timid team when trying to possess out… Read more »
There is no supposition about it! Arsenal are top of the league at least until we play Chelsea again! Watch the replay, yes we did have shots at the goal which was an improvement on the FA Cup final and against a better team. I do agree with you, however, and I have said for years, we fanny about with the ball too much when we play against physical sides because we have not possessed physical players, DvD aside! Like you say, snake hips can wriggle through most challenges but against someone that is prepared to put a shoulder in… Read more »
Barca was always a big challenge. You have to be near perfect to get anything against them. I think the last two games highlight the need for a physical DM. Someone who does the dirty work so the others can focus on attacking. Also another CB but that’s probably a summer target.
Sorry to go off-topic, but OMG, Chelsea have just *lost* 1-0 away to Reading! Fantastic win for Kelly Chambers’ side. Sooo glad for them. Superb for us as well, of course. I didn’t watch, only listened to the last five minutes of commentary, but two immediate thoughts are 1) This is Chelsea’s version of our match v Sp*rs but whereas we found the goal to draw, they were even more wasteful, and 2) they are having a reaction to Sunday – not just to being the FA Cup winners, but their season has been about getting revenge for the opening… Read more »
To me it is a function of the stupid TV scheduling we have to put up with.
We drew with Spuds Saturday lunch time following a mid-week trip to Europe and guess what, Chelsea have lost to Reading on a Saturday lunch time following a mid-week game in Europe!
See a pattern forming?
EUFA and the FA need to get their thinking caps on because the WSL is being screwed as a competition by teams that are “fortunate” enough to be participating in European and other domestic competitions too!
As usual, it is finances above players, clubs and fans!
First womans game in many years. It was a family evening out. I told the family we would probably loose but get a goal or two. I was half right. On paper it was a must see . In realty it was not a lot of laughs. Wiser tactitians than me will tell me if I am being and arse but that Barca goal keeper was not just off her line most of rhe time bit sometimes closer to thecenter . Lob. Big kick high and long. Just a thought.
At least you got to see Barcelona 2021. There will probably never be another team like them!