After an early elimination from the 2023/24 UEFA Women’s Champions League at the hands of Paris FC, many were baying for blood when it comes to Jonas Eidevall’s tenure as the Head Coach of Arsenal’s historically successful women’s team.
While those early cries may have been a little premature, an opening day defeat at Emirates Stadium against Matt Beard’s Liverpool looked to add substance to the appeals, and an uninspiring draw against Manchester United a week later looked capable of bringing his time in North London to an early end.
Having finished just a point behind Chelsea in his first season in the job, some fans may have viewed Eidevall’s performance in 2022/23 as a failure, with the team slipping to third place and finishing a staggering 11 points off the top of the table.Embed from Getty Images
But injuries played a crucial role last season, with Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead, Laura Wienroither and Leah Williamson all ruled out for prolonged periods with anterior cruciate ligament injuries – and that’s on top of additional shorter-term absences that left Eidevall with very little choice when it came to squad selection.
Those injuries have carried into this term too, and while Mead and Miedema have both now returned to first-team action, there is still some time to go before Wienroither and Williamson will be ready to enter the fray again.
Mead appeared as a substitute on October 15, as the Gunners returned to Emirates Stadium to host a struggling Aston Villa side that had fallen to successive defeats on the opening two match days. Trailing after Maz Pacheco’s first-half opener, Mead’s introduction in the 88th minute directly led to Arsenal’s first win of the season – as the English international registered the assist for Alessia Russo’s 94th minute winner.Embed from Getty Images
Of course, that could be merely coincidental. But the Villa result wasn’t a one-off, and the Gunners have been a results machine ever since – closing the gap at the top of the table to just three points. On the pitch though, the performances still leave plenty to be desired.
Take the trip to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate a week later as an example. Miedema made her long-awaited return from injury in BS3, in a match that saw Katie McCabe net twice to break down a spirited and rather resilient Robins side.
Eidevall’s side have lost just once since, falling to their first-ever WSL North London Derby defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in the final match ahead of the Christmas break. That brought an impressive run of ten consecutive victories in all competitions to an end – but there will surely be a palpable confidence amongst the Arsenal camp that given their proven ability to turn their season around, they are more than capable of challenging Chelsea and Manchester City for the title.