‘We are really aiming for big things this season,’ says Amanda Ilestedt ahead of Arsenal’s next Conti Cup outing

Arsenal’s Amanda Ilestedt spoke to the media ahead of Arsenal’s next outing in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup on Wednesday evening. The Swedish international defender reflected on what it’s been like playing alongside Lotte Wubben-Moy, Arsenal’s ‘togetherness’ and what the Gunners are aiming to achieve across all competitions as the 2023/24 season heats up.

Amanda Ilestedt arrived in North London over the summer window, as the Gunners announced the defender would be departing her former side in Paris Saint-Germain to sign in N5 – all before heading over to Australia and New Zealand to represent Sweden at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Arsenal fans got a sight of their new signing as the major tournament ran its course, and with Ilestedt earning herself a spectacular four goals in her World Cup campaign, fans were left eagerly anticipating her arrival.

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Fast forward to the new calendar year, Ilestedt has established herself as a member of Jonas Eidevall’s cemented centre-back pairing, working alongside England’s Lotte Wubben-Moy. Ilestedt reflected on how the luxury of getting to work through a long string of games has helped her build a formidable relationship with Wubben-Moy, as well as how the two are adjusting to Emily Fox’s recent arrival in North London.

‘I’ve played with Lotte a lot now,’ said Ilestedt, ‘and I think our relationship on the field has been really growing. I’ve had a good season so far, honestly it takes a while to get those relationships, it’s something that you work on every day in training and also in games. Now with Emily [Fox], I think she is adapting very well in the team. It’s an everyday development and it’s something we are working on, but I think so far she has been doing very well.’

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Cementing her reputation as a formidable aerial threat during last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Ilestedt has already added three goals to her Arsenal scoring account since joining the club over the summer. Speaking on how her impressive goalscoring ability from set-piece situations has now gathered the attention of opponents, Ilestedt reflected on how she finds that the level of English football perhaps differs from what she has previously experienced.

‘In general, in this league I think they are way better [at defending], I think it’s more physical in the opponent’s box. So, I could tell that was something I definitely had to work on in the beginning so I could get that extra.’

‘I think in general it’s tougher in this league than in the leagues I have been playing in before.’

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Since joining the club, Ilestedt has played part in two record-breaking moments for women’s football. Arsenal’s first round clash against Liverpool would see them smash the Barclays Women’s Super League attendance record, before outdoing themselves in once again in December, as 59,042 fans piled through the turnstiles to watch Arsenal’s statement 4-1 victory over Chelsea.

Arsenal announced on Tuesday morning that their penultimate league fixture of the season is now to be played at Emirates Stadium, meaning over half of the club’s home fixtures will have been hosted at the club’s main stadium. Reflecting on how she has found the transition over to English football, Ilestedt spoke in high regard of Arsenal fans and their continuous efforts at packing the stands to the rafters.

‘I’ve never experienced something like that, it’s been amazing. Playing in front of a sold-out stadium, and how at the Emirates we have broken the attendance record twice already this season and I hope we can do that once again very very soon,’ she told reporters.

Ilestedt continued, adding that ‘playing at the Emirates is a very special feeling – I think our fans are amazing. You can really feel that you have that extra support every game, and that’s something I have never experienced before. I really enjoy playing in front of our fans and it’s great news that we are playing another game at the Emirates.’

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Arsenal’s next outing will see them head to Select Car Leasing Stadium on Wednesday evening to face Reading FC in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup group stage. Ilestedt expressed that Arsenal are incredibly hungry for silverware come the season’s second half, and that will see them hopefully defend their League Cup title.

‘We are now in three competitions, and we really want to fight for the title in all of them. So every game is very important for us, and now tomorrow we play another important game, and myself I want to help my team in winning. But every game is important for us, in every competition.’

‘I think this group is very, very special – coming into this group was easy because it’s like a unit, we really feel like it’s a team. I don’t know that it’s that common at this level that it’s so clear, that’s also one of the reasons that I think we can achieve good things.’

Amanda Ilestedt and her Arsenal teammates will be back in action on Wednesday evening as the Gunners head to Select Car Leasing Stadium to face Reading FC in the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup.