Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall has urged his team to be brave and play to win against Chelsea in the WSL tomorrow. The teams, in 1st and 2nd in the table, face up in front of an expected crowd of 45,000 on Sunday lunchtime.
The Gunners have only won one of their last seven league games against Chelsea, at the Emirates Stadium last September. When confronted with that record, Jonas Eidevall joked, “A lot of those games were before my time, right?”
Eidevall drew on the theme of togetherness, the overall title of the project that has seen the Emirates Stadium exterior design transformed, and urged his players to play without fear against Chelsea.
“When we look at the team, the togetherness is the foundation to achieve something,” Eidevall explained. “Because when you feel togetherness, you feel safety and you feel somebody will have your back.
“If you try and you are not successful, somebody will have your back. When you create that togetherness, you get teams that play without fear, who are brave and front-footed and want to seize opportunities and play to win rather than not to lose.
“For me, that is the transformation I would like to see this team going through. You are right, many of our players have been involved in all of these seven games. That does not mean the eighth game has to be the same way.
“That is what impresses me most with individuals and teams, to be able to change and develop. To go from one situation and change it into another. For us, this is an opportunity to change that. You can’t change history but you can change the future.”
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Eidevall said that togetherness is formed on the training ground as much as it is in games and paid tribute to the club and their backing of the women’s team in more practical circumstances.
“You see all the time, the togetherness in this club. Maybe you don’t see it but in the way that we prepare, before we played Lyon we had pitches here (at London Colney) that could not be used because of the snowfall.
“In minutes, the club managed to arrange for us to train at the Emirates so that we could prepare there. We see these small things and that builds togetherness.
“It’s about enjoying that too. We have gone from some one-off occasions to now saying this is the third WSL game in a row where we have over 40,000 people here.”
Arsenal trail Chelsea by three points at the top of the table but have a game in hand over Emma Hayes’ side. Eidevall acknowledged the importance of the head-to-head results but pointed out that they are not always defining.
“Last year, we played Chelsea twice and we took four points off them, they took one point off us and we didn’t win the trophy. It shows that you can be the better in the head-to-head and still not win.
“Of course it helps and of course we want to win. But last season we saw the team that took the fewest points from the head-to-heads won the trophy. The answer is that every game is important if you want to win the league.”