Arsenal Women drew 2-2 in the first leg if their Champions League qualifier against Ajax at Meadow Park on Tuesday night. Leuchter gave Ajax a first half lead, before Stina Blackstenius and a Kim Little penalty gave the Gunners the advantage. Leuchter hit a late equaliser to level the score going into next week’s second leg. Jonas Eidevall spoke to the press post-match, the first three questions are from Arseblog News.
On Arsenal struggling to deal with Ajax’s press in the first half…
We knew they were a very pressing team. When you look at their PPDA (passes per defensive action) vs all the teams in the WSL and the Dutch league they were the team with the lowest PPDA in all the games that Wyscout covers. You can only have that when you have a lot of pressing. We did our homework on that even if it didn’t look like it in the first half!
On upping the intensity in the second half and targeting the space behind the Ajax right-back…
I think it was a really important first half because our first half was not good and you could see that we needed to unify in key moments in the game. One thing was our press which wasn’t intense enough in the first half. We were half committing and they’re good enough to play out so you have to commit fully. Their first goal comes from a throw in and we don’t press the thrower and from there on we get in trouble with our positioning.
The second thing was that we had to do more with the space that they gave us. By doing our positioning better we knew that the space was going to come and that it was likely to come behind. That was consequence of our using the space better.
• Arsenal 1-1 Ajax
• | @AjaxVrouwen | #sp0rtsmedia | #UWCL | #arsenal | #arsaja | #RealFCBpic.twitter.com/OmlHhmLh8v
— Sportsmedia ❁ (@Sp0rtsmedia) September 20, 2022
On how much he was encouraged by the second half display even if Arsenal didn’t get the victory…
You have to look forward. You have to say there are lessons in this game to be learned. You can argue based on chances we should have won. It’s gonna be an intense game next week but we have to brave. If you want to go into the Champions League group stages you have to win those games. You can either be afraid of those challenges or look forward to them. I want to be the team that looks forward to them.
On whether he was frustrated by some of the refereeing decisions on the night…
Yes, but let’s not put the focus there now because we have things that we can learn here and that’s where we need to put our focus. They’re not gonna redo the decisions. If anything we need to learn to be better focused and prepared.
For the second goal they get an offside and we have an opinion on where the free kick should be taken and you might have that opinion but that’s what happens in football. For us it’s about getting into positions quicker and then we can control. If the ref doesn’t make decisions by the book we can still control our decisions and action time and that’s what we need to focus on.
On whether the UWCL should be expanded to have a bigger group stage now…
Yeah but I think it’s not the discussion to have when you’re in the playoff and feel that you’re entitled to something you’re fighting for right now. We can have that discussion another time but now it’s about fighting between Arsenal and Ajax to see who is best.
On whether he expects the second leg to be different…
Of course it’s gonna be a little bit different because we will learn things and they will learn things. That’s the beauty and the challenge of playing two games against each other.
2-1 Arsenal. Kim Little from the spot. pic.twitter.com/5H7qXB52ZK
— AWFCLIPS (@awfclips) September 20, 2022
On how Rafaelle and Leah Williamson allow Arsenal to play with a high defensive line…
Ajax play with a different style that makes the game more transitional which makes the decision making for us even more important. You saw Ajax play today, they didn’t just sit back they always wanted to put pressure on the ball. They were not afraid of the spaces in behind and they have some really fast players up there. When we play teams like that then our decision making becomes more important.
On whether he would have expected more breathing space for the second leg…
I didn’t expect that. It’s the Champions League, if you come here expecting to win 5-0 today then I don’t know what kind of competition it would be. For me this was always going to be a two leg affair. Do I wish we came away with a stronger performance and result? Yes, I won’t hide that. But I never expected it to not be two legs. We know we have to win, and it won’t be easy. We don’t have to be clever about how we go about the game next week, we know we just have to win, that is clear. Look at last season, Lyon were taken to penalties in their qualifier against Levante, Wolfsburg went to extra time against Bordeaux. You get nothing for free in the Champions League, we always knew this was going to be hard.
1.Zinsberger; 16.Maritz, 6.Williamson, 2.Rafaelle, 7.Catley; 13.Walti, 10.Little(c), 11.Miedema; 9.Mead, 17.Hurtig (19.Foord ‘57); 25.Blackstenius (15.McCabe ‘74).
Lol. This experiment with Viv as a 10 needs to end. I’m sorry but if you have one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the game in your team, you use her in where she has excelled. She has had way too many quiet games as a 10. It is conversely now affecting actual kid fielders that need game time like Mana and Jordan. Even Frida. Also, Maritz and Catley don’t work as a FB pairing in big games. Saw it last season and here again. They are both defensively culpable so either one starts and one sits… Read more »
Arsenal needed a couple of /good/ midfielders more than Stinius and Hurtig, IMO. The team’s midfield is not only thin but there is no attacking midfielder other than Nobbs, who has had injury issues, has not been favored by the last two coaches and barely plays anymore. Iwabuchi is another mid (not an attacking mid) who’s been welded to the bench. And Maanum is still young. That’s the extend of our midfield–plus Miedema, who barely touched the ball in the first 20 minutes of this game.
Mediema, Iwabuchi, Maanum, Nobbs, Little would I’m fairly sure prefer to start at 10.
I’d say we’re ok at 8, but 6 leaves us a Walti injury away from disaster
The point is, Arsenal should have a bona-fide, world-class attacking midfielder. Little plays in that position some, but not always. Iwabuchi, Maanum and Nobbs may want to play the 10–but Eidevall doesn’t want them to, and they’ve all got issues. Miedema has been one of the best center-forwards in the world for most of her pro career. If Walti is injured, I presume Williamson would move into he position and Wubben-Moye would move into Williamson’s spot.
I was working so couldn’t watch….but…seems a touch harsh on Mediema at 10 (she looked good there on Friday). The point about Squad balance I agree with…but that’s a problem with too many AM not necessarily a problem with playing VM there (I’m still jonesing for DM back up for Walti). I am a women’s football ignoramus…but Hurtig looked bloody aggressive & direct on Friday……(Mead, McCabe Iwabuchi being our tricksters)…I don’t get your point. I don’t particularly like Maritz either (I couldn’t really say why tbh, she’s definitely not bad) but others seem to….so like with this royal stuff and… Read more »
Mead had quiet game too which seems to coincide with Viv having some quiet games as a 10. Also the Ajax players know Viv very well so she may have been quiet regardless where she played this game. Maritz had a poor performance by her standards for sure and Catley maybe needs more minutes to get back to her best after an injury. Ajax’s first goal began with a slow understanding between Catley and Hurtig which should improve over time. Ajax’s second goal was Maritz and Little on the right so a bit more worrying as they should work well… Read more »
The referring at times today was utter dog shite. I suspect Katie’s goal was onside and their second goal was off. But we couldn’t even get proper replays to form an opinion. That said, this was an underwhelming result we just seem to struggle when a team go physical on us. And that was the case for much of the first half. Maybe the girls are still playing their way to full fitness, but a lot has to change. P.S. Rafaelle, what a player! Easily my player of the match. Some of the things she did with the ball today,… Read more »
Foord bullied them back but most of the Arsenal players were bullied into losing the ball at one time or another
Yeah, I think Foord is one of only a few players we have who can hold their own in a physical game like yesterday’s.
Reminded me of the way Wolfsburg kicked the crap out of the Arsenal calves.
I agree, it is honorable of Jonas to brush it aside, but I firmly believe this should have been a 3-1 due to 2 gravely wrong offside decisions. However, this is also what gives me great hope for the second leg, because I firmly believe that we actually scored 2 more legal goals than they did.
All too reminiscent of the matches against Wolfsburg. If you play the ball forward to the feet of players with their backs to the goal, defenders will give them no time and tackle them hard from behind. We’re not very good at working out how to overcome this tactic.
This happens to Viv most especially.
It’ll only come with practice though….we will improve as oppositions improves & press more regularly. The question is can we improve at a faster rate than the other top teams? That’s up to Jonas & the girls…
Agree, I posted above before reading your post.
What was the foul count ? 13-1 ?
At this rate, the Brighton starting lineup (Except Nobbs for Viv) should be starting the second leg against Ajax if we are going to stand any chance. We need to start strong and I know I may look like a clown for saying Viv should be benched but at some point we have to tell ourselves the truth that she has been really poor. Either she benches or starts upfront, I know she is a better player but I wouldn’t reckon benching Stina in her current form for Viv. And Jonas fuking tell these girls to be aggressive….I have played… Read more »
Part of the reason why Jonas prefers Viv as a 10 is her physicality. Jordan’s technical playing style won’t work against such a physical team. Maybe Frida could come in for Kim, which I don’t see happening given it’s a must-win game.
The goals we conceded were very straightforward. They weren’t worldies. If we had handled basic defending it wouldn’t be so nervy going into second leg. Our center-backs are probably better at attacking than any other defenders out there but we need them to defend as their first job. They are capable of defending well so hopefully just a blip
What are the refereeing decisions being complained about? I couldn’t catch the game
McCabe had a goal ruled out for offside which was probably onside. Ajax could retort that the foul on Mead that led to Arsenal’s penalty was probably outside the area and should have been a free kick instead. Also a free kick for Ajax when Foord was penalized for offside was taken inside Arsenal’s half of the pitch. It led to Ajax’s equalizer but before Ajax scored Arsenal regained possession and lost it again so meh.
And she allowed the Ajax players to be extra physical in the first half
They were pulling and kicking our players with no consequences.
I thought it was just that our goal wasn’t offside and theirs was, I didn’t even notice that the offside free kick was taken in our half. Therefore a question for rule experts: Couldn’t we – due to that – demand a replay and void the result of this game or at least have it replayed from the minute of that wrong decision? I am aware that refereeing decitions are non disputable and you can’t argue if it was a red or no, offside or not etc. However, this is an incorrect rule execution by the ref, she allowed something… Read more »
That first part of the 2nd half was so good – so frustrating that it wasn’t like that in the 1st half or rest of the 2nd half.
A good attendance I thought, compared to CL games at a similar point last season? I don’t have the stats but it def felt fuller.
Arsenal aren’t the only ones that need to up their game, the new food people seem to be struggling. I hope they will also improve…..
I was at the match but have just had a look at the highlights to see things in more detail. On the plus side, you can clearly see that Katie was onside; she’s a yard outside the penalty area while an Ajax defender is a yard inside. However, you can’t hide the fact that our defending was poor for both goals. The crosses were allowed to come in much too easily and, I’m sorry to say, Leah and Rafaella really should have cleared their lines. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them actually look clumsy.