Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said he prepared his side for a crucial Women’s Super League victory over Manchester City by making his players watch videos of previous wins over the team.
Opponents Manchester City monopolized the ball in the first fifteen minutes yet fell behind to Arsenal’s first meaningful attack when Australians Caitlin Foord and Steph Cately combined after the team won the ball high up the field, with Catley eventually sweeping the ball into the far corner.
Manchester City recovered from going behind in a game for the first time this season by pressing relentlessly in the second half, eventually equalizing when former Arsenal player Chloe Kelly lashed the ball into the goal following a goalmouth scramble.
Yet, Arsenal still contrived to win the game when Manchester City goalkeeper Khiara Keating – who saved a first-hald penalty from Arsenal captain Kim Little – misjudged the bounce of a hopeful long ball, and substitute Stina Blackstenius pounced to roll the ball into an unguarded net with three minutes remaining.
Despite going into the weekend, unbeaten and top of the league, Manchester City therefore lost once again to Arsenal at their Meadow Park stadium in Borehamwood. Manchester City have now won just one of their last eight WSL games away to their North London opponents.
“I was a little bit surprised before the game to be honest,” said Eidevall. It was almost portrayed that we were the underdog here. In my experience here, we won three times out of three when I’ve been the Arsenal coach here against Manchester City. I think that’s a very strong record.”
After the game, Eidevall admitted he used his team’s impressive home record over their opponents to motivate his team. “We had a nice little medley video clip of good moments against City at Meadow Park and what qualities we wanted to see. That’s both technical, but also physical attributes – a complete holistic view on the performance.”
Nevertheless, Eidevall admitted to me that the first fifteen minutes of the game had not gone to plan. “The first fifteen minutes stressed me out! I don’t think anyone planned to lose the ball in the way that we did here.”
“It didn’t surprise us, the way that they played but obviously we can see our decision-making was a little bit slow. That didn’t go to plan. I’m happy that the players kept calm, we changed a few details so we started to play our way much better out of their pressure.”
After losing their opening game of the season at home to Liverpool, Arsenal has now won three games in succession. However, he believes his team’s best performance came before that sequence when they rescued a point with a late goal away to Manchester United in their second league match.
“One place where we have struggled lately is Manchester United. I thought our display there went a little bit under the radar because if I compare our performance there this year to last year, I thought we were much closer to win the game.”
Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor was left reflecting on missed opportunities as they fell three points behind defending champions and league leaders Chelsea. “I thought we dominated, but we’ve spoken about this, we need to be clinical.”
“It’s the hardest thing in the world to score goals, to put the ball in the back of the net, but we’ve got players who are capable. Yeah, it’s a frustrating one, because back at 1-1, it probably only looked like one team likely was going to win it, that was us.”
Taylor also felt his team should have had a penalty with the score at 1-1, when Khadija Shaw appeared to be pushed over in the penalty area when poised to head the ball into the Arsenal net. Referee Rebecca Welch, who brandished her yellow card six times in the first half, waved play on.
“We don’t get the critical moments that go for us, this referee tends to never give us a penalty, always gives penalties against us, but never gives us one. It was a clear shove on Bunny (Shaw) but we need to take it out of the hands of the opposition, we need to take it out of the hands of the officials and make it count ourselves.”