At the end of last season, Jonas Eidevall spoke about his desire for Arsenal to improve against teams that man-mark- especially in the Champions League.
Arsenal struggled against Wolfsburg, Barcelona and the away match against Hoffenheim last season and were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Ajax, who also play an aggressive pressing style.
In some of those games, the spacing in Arsenal’s midfield has become stretched, leading to players like Vivianne Miedema becoming isolated and heavily marked with her back to goal.
Arseblog News asked Jonas Eidevall about this in his pre-Ajax press conference and he said greater patience in possession was the key to improvement in this area.
“Sometimes more passes connect the team,” he explained. “In the first leg against Ajax I think we were guilty of not keeping hold of the ball well enough, of making too few passes and losing it.
“Statistically when you look at the number of passes our forwards played forwards in that game it was very low compared to the games against Spurs and Brighton.
“It’s about moving the ball better and connecting better and if you are very tightly marked, like Tottenham man-marked Viv, but the difference was the connection of the players around Viv was much better.
“They started to use each other’s movements. The 9 and 10 can make movements off each other, the 8 and 10 can make movements off each other. If you get too stretched you become isolated.
“Sometimes in those situations, you need to make more passes and hold onto the ball just to protect it and not to try to create, so that you can get closer to each other. That is a long-term development for us to do better in those situations.”
In both of the WSL games so far, Jonas has used Stina Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord in the centre-forward role. Both players bring very different qualities to the position and Eidevall said his squad is deliberately designed to have flexibility built into it.
— arseblognews (@arseblognews) September 25, 2022
“We have three different type of number 9s, I have Stina, Caitlin and Viv, all can play number 9 and all do it differently,” the Swede pointed out.
“Especially with their off the ball movements. It’s the same with our full-backs, at right-back we have Laura (Wienroither) and Noelle (Maritz) who can do different things.
“At left-back we have Steph Catley and Katie McCabe who do different things. On the left wing we can play Katie, Lina (Hurtig), Caitlin (Foord) or we can play Beth Mead over there.
“All four of them provide different options and fit into the game model that we have but they will have different roles.
“That is a strength because we can see what we need for the day or if we need to change anything, we can do that by changing the personnel but keeping the same formation and structure.”