Jonas Eidevall has admitted that Arsenal can’t afford to dwell on the injury problems that have dogged their season and must prepare harder to meet the demands of the modern women’s game.
The Gunners boss oversaw an emphatic 4-1 win over Everton in midweek, in a game of full of twists and turns. Four goals in 13 minutes were interspersed with losing another player to injury – midfield maestro Lia Walti – and Everton being reduced to ten players.
Walti’s injury, expected to rule her out for at least six weeks but crucially not the 2023 Women’s World Cup, is the latest blow for Arsenal, who have seen a number of their star players pick up significant injuries that require lengthy rehabilitation.
Eidevall was speaking before the weekend’s huge London derby with WSL title-chasing Chelsea at Kingsmeadow, and was in philosophical mood when asked about Arsenal’s trials, tribulations and injury problems – admitting that 2022/23 had been one of his toughest seasons as a manager.
“I think that is fair to say.” the Swede told his pre-match press conference. “It is tough to get players injured because you feel so much for them and what they missed, but also to constantly have to come up with new solutions and prepare new ways.
“It definitely has been, but now when you’re in the middle of it, it’s just to keep going one game at a time.”
Reflecting on the busy schedule – which many have pointed towards being the root cause of Arsenal’s catalogue of injuries – Eidevall, who has previously criticised the scheduling of the women’s game, admitted that the only way to combat things is to look forward and improve preparation the best way possible.
“We can’t think anything about the schedule and the number of games and how competitive the games are, but the direction the game is going in, it’s not going to be less competitive,” he said. “It’s not going to be less games; it’s going to be the opposite. It’s going to be more competitive games; it’s gonna be more games.
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“That’s what we then need to prepare, on an organisational level, prepare players individually to cope with that. And that’s where we’re heading.
“Our problem is that things are happening so fast, we are sprinting into that direction and it’s with less preparation times,” he further reflected. “I don’t think we can slow the development of the game. We just need to prepare even better for it.”
Speaking specifically on the challenge of facing Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, who recently beat Manchester United to win the Women’s FA Cup for a third season in a row but lost to Arsenal earlier in the season in the Conti Cup final, Eidevall admitted his side will need to at their absolute best against the Blues and that he expects them to have learned from defeat in the latter.
“We play against a very, very strong Chelsea side and we know we need to be at our very best and give maybe our best performance of the season, in order to get the result we want.
“I think it’s going to be something different. It’s different players, I definitely think that Chelsea will learn some things after the Count Cup game.
“They’re not going to go out and play the same way. I think we have a strong performance and we know Chelsea as a team doesn’t like the game to be like that, so they definitely come up with solutions for not having the game like that. So we have a flexible mind and be prepared for that.
“It will be a Chelsea team that will look a little bit different than it did the last time around,” he added.