Arsenal Women travel to Manchester United Women on Friday evening in the WSL aiming to get their season on the road. The match also marks the return to Leigh Sports Village of Alessia Russo, who signed for the Gunners from United in the summer.
Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall was full of praise for Russo in his pre-match press conference, describing her as one of the most complete forwards he has ever seen.
“Like I said before many times, I think Alessia has a lot of different qualities and what might be the unique thing is the combination of these qualities,” he explained. “So, sometimes you have a forward that is really hard working, really loyal, works extremely hard in defence and you can live with that player not being so good technically, for example, or not being a great finisher.
“Then sometimes you have a player that is a great finisher, but you don’t get exactly 100 per cent in defence for it and maybe you can live with that for the team as well because of what it can provide with you in offence.”
“Sometimes that player is really good technically when there is not a player around her, so it’s not any duels, but once it’s a duel, that player starts to lose the ball, but you can live with that because the moment that she isn’t in a duel, they provide so much for the team.
“But now you see Alessia has qualities for it and she can work hard in defence, she’s clever in defence, but she can also score goals. She’s an excellent finisher both with her head and with her feet. She’s a technical player, but she can also control the duels and be really physical and protect the ball.”
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Russo has scored against Arsenal for United on five occasions, including winning goals in both league games last season. “It’s very, very seldom that you see players that can have all the aspects. Usually in football, you have to choose between some of it and that has to be an active choice.
“But the standout with Alessia and why I think her potential is sky high is that she has all the faces. That also means she has to develop all the faces for it, but she has all of it and that’s quite unique.”
Eidevall was asked whether Russo was likely to be even more motivated given a hot reception likely awaits her at LSV on Friday, “Alessia is 100 percent professional. She always trains with a lot of motivation but of course it gets special when you return to play against a club where you have your all your former teammates and former fans and so on in. It’s really important for us, like with every time we go somewhere, we go there together, and we play together.”