Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall says the experience brought into the group by players like Jodie Taylor and Jen Beattie, as well as Kelly Smith who has joined the coaching staff until the end of the season, is invaluable.
Captain and vice-captain Kim Little and Leah Williamson will miss the rest of the season, while experienced players like Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead have also been long-term absentees. Jen Beattie has recently come into the starting line-up while 37-year-old Jodie Taylor was signed as a free agent in March.
Eidevall says it is not only Beattie and Taylor’s qualities as players that are paying off during a crunch part of the season. “I am happy to be more specific about what leadership means in these situations,” Jonas Eidevall told Arseblog News during his pre-Brighton press conference.
“For me, when you have external factors like pressure to get results, you will look at players who might lose focus on what we are going to do as a team. Players with leadership and experience will be able to stick to the game plan and they will often lead by example and by the way they communicate.
“Both Jen and Jodie are great examples of players like that. They have a really clear understanding of what the team needs to do and they understand their own roles within that and they live it 100%. That is so important.”
🗣️ "We got the job done. 3 points is massive."
Arsenal's Jen Beattie says beating Leicester was an important win for the club 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2Dnz7x8qa8
— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) May 5, 2023
Club legend Kelly Smith also recently joined the coaching staff and Eidevall says he wants to tap into her experiences as a player and spread those qualities to his squad. “Kelly (Smith) combines everything we want to be. She had this great technique, vision and game intelligence as a footballer. But she also played with her heart on her sleeve in every situation. She embodied as a player everything this team should have the vision to be.
“It is great to have her inside our environment and culture to try to shape that and not having a coach that is just about the tactical or the technical but can have a holistic view and everyone that knows their Arsenal history knows she lived that day in and day out on the pitch.”
The Gunners travel to a revitalised Brighton side on Wednesday evening after a tough 1-0 victory over Leicester on Friday night. Eidevall says his team will have to show the same qualities to beat Brighton that they showed in overcoming the Foxes on Friday.
“I was so happy, I watched Leicester’s games against Liverpool and Reading and I knew it was a totally different Leicester team to the one we played earlier in the season when we played them away. Of course, you start in your mind worrying about coming from the Wolfsburg game on Monday with the application we showed and everything it meant.
“We played an opponent who had really changed so it would have been easy for the players to have expected something else. But I think we prepared really well and sold in the narrative about what kind of team we were playing against and what kind of game it was going to be, players were there mentally and able to execute that.
“That was never an easy task, I am glad that we solved it. But now we have to go onto the next one because tomorrow is the same because it is going to be a really tough game again.”