Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Jonas Eidevall once again demands greater transparency on WSL postponements

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall has once again suggested that the WSL needs greater clarity on postponements after a number of games were called off during the winter due to COVID cases.

Clubs were not asked to publicly declare how many COVID cases they had in their squads and it’s an issue Eidevall has consistently called for greater scrutiny on. The Gunners had games against Brighton and Spurs postponed at the request of their opponents during this season.

It’s fair to say that Jonas wanted to get the issue off his chest, after Chelsea’s win over Spurs on Thursday night took them within two wins of the title, Eidevall, whose Arsenal side are four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand, was asked what he made of their result as the opening question in his pre-Aston Villa press conference.

“I didn’t watch it. I didn’t focus on Chelsea when they were rearranging their fixtures in January so that Sam Kerr didn’t have to miss games because of the Asia Cup and I don’t focus on them now. I focus on Arsenal getting as many points as possible and seeing where that gets us in the table.”

His comments were in reference to January’s Asia Cup, which saw players from Australia, Japan and South Korea missing for most of January’s fixtures to play for their countries. Arsenal lost Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley and Mana Iwabuchi.

Chelsea had two games postponed in January. Chelsea play away at Birmingham and at home to Manchester United and if they win both games, they will be champions. Eidevall was asked about either team’s prospects of taking points from Emma Hayes’ side.

“If you have been following our season you will know that both teams beat us once this season! I have seen their qualities. But this is a very tough league, we have to win all of our matches and that is where our energy and focus is.”

Arsenal’s surprise defeat to Birmingham in January, as it stands, could cost them the title. Birmingham are rock bottom and the Gunners would finish one point behind Chelsea if both teams win their remaining games. Eidevall has often pointed to the paucity of that performance but also feels his team were punished for playing when other teams had games called off immediately after Christmas.

“It was a very, very difficult game for so many different reasons with players coming back from holidays and COVID, players leaving for the Asia Cup, new players not being eligible yet. We were one of the few teams that chose to play that weekend whereas other teams got their games rescheduled.”

On the back of the answer, Eidevall was asked by Molly Hudson from the Times whether he regretted not getting the Birmingham game postponed. “No. We should play matches. When you are a football club, it is your business.

“I have said this before, I am very disappointed with the way, as a league, this has been handled. The lack of transparency in the reasoning behind rescheduling games and, also, how long those games take to be rescheduled.

“There is a massive need for improvement there to make the league more fair and more competitive and that there are rules that are stuck to. That has been a big surprise for me, personally, coming into this country this season. I think we have been doing the right thing and it’s the league that should change. Football teams should play football matches.”

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