Eidevall on Arsenal Womens stalemate with Ajax “We know we have to win”

Jonas Eidevall on Arsenal Women´s 2-2 draw in UWCL clash with Ajax by Michelle

Arsenal Women only managed to draw 2 – 2 in the first leg of their Champions League Qualifier against Ajax Vreuwen, at Meadow Park, on Tuesday night (Sept 20th).  Read my full review of that match here.

Jonas Eidevall spoke to the press post-match, as transcribed below for your perusal. Source

“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.”

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.

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 be 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.

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.

A very open and frank interview with Eidevall.  In the meantime next stop will be at Emirates Stadium for Arsenal Women´s North London derby clash with Tottenham in the WSL, on Saturday 24th September, where ticket sales have now reached a WSL record of 48,000.  Then Arsenal´s prep for next week´s 2nd leg clash with Ajax Vrouen, in Amsterdam, begins.  Like Eidevall said and we agree wholeheartedl.  it won’t be easy.  We know we just have to win, that is clear.  One thing´s for sure, us Gooners certainly have some VERY interesting games to watch over the next week.  The Arsenal can do this!

Michelle Maxwell

Follow Michelle on Just Gooner Women on Twitter for regular updates on the Arsenal Womens Team!

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