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Jonas Eidevall: Arsenal Women delighted to lift first trophy since 2019 – ‘now we’re hungry for more’

By on March 11, 2023 0 20 Views

Jonas Eidevall: Arsenal Women delighted to lift first trophy since 2019 – ‘now we’re hungry for more’

Sky Sports talks exclusively to Jonas Eidevall about Arsenal’s growing ambition – fuelled by unrelenting standards and a reacquaintance with silverware; watch Arsenal vs Reading live on Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday from 6.30pm; 6.45pm kick-off

Silverware. At last. Arsenal got their hands on the first trophy of the Jonas Eidevall era last Sunday, beating rivals Chelsea to the Continental Cup, but their ambitious manager refuses to settle for that. He demands more.”Why not?” he says, when quizzed if a trophy treble could be on the cards this campaign. “Arsenal only know possible.”

Dubbed ‘Conti Cup queens’, a self-appointed title, the Gunners’ latest triumph marked a record-extending sixth League Cup conquest, yet this season holds promise far beyond that feat – impressive as it is.

Arsenal are fighting on multiple fronts. One trophy in the bag, two more to chase. “I think winning is fleeting. It’s a very fleeting moment,” Eidevall said after triumphantly placing his Conti Cup winners medal into his pocket last week, as if to signify an expeditious key change.

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Kim Little and Leah Williamson lift League Cup after Arsenal beat Chelsea at Selhurst Park

The Swede does not allow himself to dwell – there isn’t time. Three days later Arsenal were back in Women’s Super League action, needing to address a three-game winless run that had sparked a slip to fourth place. They duly put Liverpool to task, emerging 2-0 victors.

The high from wins can only ever be a transitory feeling, Eidevall maintains, as he attempts to steer his side to yet more acclaim this term. There exists opportunity aplenty. The WSL title race is as open as it has been for years, while Arsenal also have the potential to mount a momentous European challenge – their side of the draw is indeed favourable.

Eidevall, methodical and meticulous in his work, likes to tackle each hurdle separately though – that way nothing is left to chance. No detail missed. That’s what constitutes a winning team, he believes.

“We’re grateful because we know how much hard work goes into winning a trophy,” Eidevall began, after explaining that next week’s free weekend will be spent on a scouting mission to Koln, Germany, to get a better look at Arsenal’s next Champions League opponents Bayern Munich.”I’m not bored of talking about it, winning is never boring,” he continued. “It is special. It was special to achieve this with this club and this team. I’m very proud and happy.”We’re not going to be complacent with it. We’re going to use it as motivation to achieve things in the future. It is everyone’s ambition to win a lot. But I also think you have to be humble because winning is hard in football. There are a lot of good football teams who try to achieve the same things.”

Chelsea are one of said teams. They are the league’s perennial champions, seldom outdone, least of all in cup finals. So when Arsenal treated a packed Selhurst Park to a lesson in ‘winning mentality’ against Emma Hayes’ usually uncompromising side last week, some rightly left the ground stunned. Not Eidevall. It was simply the masterplan at work.”I’ve only been here for 18 months but of course when I’ve seen us playing in knockout games against Chelsea before, they have gotten the better of us,” he admitted. “So yes, it’s nice for us to show we have that performance within us. We all felt that was very nice.”The best side won the final – it was a quality difference in that game. If we talk about desire and hunger and so on, those are nice qualities to have as a human being and team. It shows you understand your ‘why’ – why you are getting out of bed in the morning. You have purpose.”The more hunger you have the more you increase your chances of success. I’m really happy if she [Hayes] saw it that way, that we looked like a hungry team – that’s the kind of team I want to coach.”

Arsenal players celebrate after putting a third goal past their London rivals last Sunday

There is clarity too. Arsenal are not looking to replicate Chelsea; far from it. They have undergone a period of transition to be in a place where they finally compete for silverware again – their first since 2019 – but are now better equipped to deal with the spotlight. Winning increases expectation, after all. “When you look at the last decade, Arsenal has not been the leading club,” Eidevall conceded on Sunday. “Historically it has been,” he added. The aim is bold, but clear.”When you have shown you have potential, you have to show you have standards to maintain it,” Eidevall continued to tell Sky Sports during an exclusive chat at Arsenal’s frost-bitten training base.”We’ve spoken about it. We’re challenging our standards. We have to go to war against the weather and all the external factors, including any complacency you might be feeling. That isn’t who we are. We have to live those standards, that’s the obligation.

“Winning is a goal you work so long for. When it does happen you feel both happiness and emptiness at the same time. The journey is so rewarding, it creates a purpose, but all of a sudden when you reach the point of winning it means the journey is done. Now you need to start a new journey. We have a hard time not being on a journey – so we have to start again.”Arsenal had failed to beat the Blues in five attempts, suffering three defeats and two draws prior to Sunday’s final. Their last victory came on the opening day of the 2021-22 season, which, incidentally represented Eidevall’s first league outing as Gunners boss. So how far have Arsenal come in that time, and can they turn one trophy triumph into many more?”We have the potential to beat any team,” he remarked with steadfast conviction. “That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed or we are entitled to do it – we have to be on top of our game. But we are prepared and focused as a group, we certainly have the belief we can achieve those things together.

“We have to have perfect off-pitch behaviours. We have to eat like the best team in the world. We have to sleep like the best team in the world. We have to learn from analysis videos like the best team in the world. We don’t have a lot of time to work on our culture on the pitch, so all these off-pitch behaviours become so important. It creates the right feeling.”There was a different energy about the side in red and white last week, who were blighted by season-ending injuries to key players Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema around Christmas. They played with fluidity and flair, which many expect, but they also possessed a doggedness previously absent. Something appears to have changed – clicked perhaps. A glint in the eye of Eidevall suggested the same.

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“You work closely with your players – you see the details. You want each others’ success,” he added. “This is a team that has shown what it is capable of. This squad has beaten Manchester City in overtime, they have beaten Chelsea in a final. I definitely see that we have the potential to achieve great things together.”Certainly Arsenal Women – formerly Arsenal Ladies – are built on a legacy of greatness. They remain the only English side to claim European honours, something still within reach this time around. Will this mark the start of another Gunners golden era? First up, Eidevall’s side must navigate a way past Reading, live on Sky Sports, on Sunday, to keep league title hopes alive.Pressure has eased somewhat – banking a cup title has that effect. But focus remains razor-sharp. After all, as Eidevall attests to, Arsenal only deal in possible.Watch Arsenal vs Reading live on Sky Sports Main Event on Sunday from 6.30pm; 6.45pm kick-off.

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