Arsenal Women manager Jonas Eidevall says he is happy with how his squad is shaping up heading into the WSL season, which kicks off on Sunday at Emirates Stadium against Liverpool.
The Gunners brought defenders Amanda Ilestedt and Laia Codina, midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross and forwards Cloé Lacasse and Alessia Russo into the squad this summer. Speaking about Cooney-Cross, Eidevall suggested that Sunday might be a little soon for her to make her first start for the club after signing from Hammarby on deadline day.
“Whenever you bring a new player in it’s always going to take a little bit of time to settle. That is all natural, there are new relationships on the pitch, you have to adapt to a new club and game ideas, a new city and it is always going to take time,” Eidevall explained in his pre-Liverpool press conference.
“But we have brought the players we have brought in because we believe in them long-term. Kyra has some tremendous qualities with the way she passes the ball, which will be really good for Arsenal.
“But we haven’t been able to play her in any games yet, she has been in all of the practices since she got here but most of those have been without any large numbers. Today (Friday) was the first time we had all the squad back for her to train with. Of course we brought her in to have an immediate impact but whether it comes this weekend or a bit later, we will have to wait and see.”
Laia Codina also signed from Barcelona during the summer to replace outgoing Brazilian defender Rafaelle. Codina is a left-sided centre-half but right-footed. Eidevall explained to Arseblog News that the market for left-footed central defenders is incredibly scarce but that the club identified a number of qualities in Codina.
“There are not many left-footed central defenders when you look around the world. It’s a short list. But you quite quickly see whether a player is of the quality you want or if they are not.
“Some standout things Laia has is the way she passes the ball, really good passer. Really good leadership qualities given her age and she puts a real pride in defending. That is three key qualities we saw with her.
“She really wants to grow and take the next step in her career and that’s the mentality we really want at Arsenal. I think that is going to be a really good combination for us.”
Eidevall told Arseblog News in Sweden earlier this month that the club were in the market for a right-back, which ultimately they didn’t manage and looks like the most obvious hole in the squad with Laura Wienroither injured leaving only one recognised right-back in Noelle Maritz. Eidevall was bullish about his options in the position however.
“I think we have options as we have seen before with other players being able to play there. Especially in the way we play, I see a number of options in-house. For the first time in a long time I think we have a very good competition in the squad from a numbers perspective.
“I think this might be the first time in a long time that I might have to take a decision on the squad selection on Sunday because we can only have 20 players. That is a great situation because that is the healthy competition we need.”
Arsenal open their WSL season at home to Liverpool at Emirates Stadium at 2pm on Sunday.