During this season, Lia Wälti has had to adapt to a slightly new role in the Arsenal midfield. Signed in the summer of 2018, Wälti was, arguably, Joe Montemurro’s absolutely key signing during his reign.
The Swiss midfielder was the spoke in the wheel in Montemurro’s midfield at the base of the team. Wälti still performs that role for Arsenal but has also developed into a more aggressive, front-footed presence in the Gunners’ engine room with Kim Little often swapping into the deeper role.
Last season, Wälti averaged 29.4 touches per 90 in her defensive third, that is down to 17.4 per 90 this season, she is also taking over two more touches per 90 in the final third. Her interceptions are up from 1.26 per 90 last season to 2.26 this with a much more aggressive, pressing approach.
Lia told Arseblog News in December that she had been unhappy with herself and how slow she felt she had been to adapt to the new demands of her.
“I think my position changed quite a lot and, I have to be honest, I’m not fully happy with my performances yet, especially not with the consistency of my performance. I think it does take a bit of time. But I think I’m an experienced player, I need to be able to adapt to a new coaching style and I think takes me a bit longer than I wish for.”
— AWFCLIPS (@awfclips) January 29, 2022
Fast forward two-and-a-half months and Wälti’s performances in the engine room have been exemplary. Arseblog News asks Jonas Eidevall about Wälti’s adaption in his pre-Birmingham press conference.
“She has really developed well in January and February going into this role,” Eidevall says. “It is human that when you get a few other details and sometimes you carry that practice mode into playing games.
“Sometimes it means you can overthink situations and you don’t work on your habits or trust your skills as much. I think that happened a bit with Lia at first.
“It was really important to bring her back and get her into good skillsets and she is a really good pressing player as well, it is important for her to get those dynamics.
“I think her performances since the end of January and in February have been brilliant and she has been a key part in the team’s overall development, both in build-up and in defence.”