Jonas Eidevall: ‘The whole club should take massive credit’ for Emirates Stadium sellout

Arsenal will face Manchester United in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday, with more than 60,000 fans flooding through the turnstiles at Emirates Stadium. Addressing the media at the club’s Sobha Realty Training Centre, Jonas Eidevall extended his gratitude to those working across all areas of the club.

‘Milestones now happen in shorter periods of time’

Saturday’s match will not the first time that he Gunners have achieved a sellout crowd in N5, having recorded a crowd of 60,063 fans last season as they hosted VfL Wolfsburg in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

This, however, will be the first time they’ve done so for a domestic fixture, and Eidevall was keen to emphasise that the plaudits should not just be given to him and his immediate team. ‘The whole club should take massive credit for that,’ he explained.

‘That would not have been possible without all the hard work that many people do across the whole club. That goes from Dan and the Communications Department to Juliet and the Commercial Department. It goes for the staff at the grounds to prepare them and make them for such an enjoyable experience for everyone that comes, as well as of course our fans. Massive credit to them.’

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‘It’s another milestone, but I feel these milestones now happen in shorter periods of time and that’s amazing because that’s how progression and a snowball acts when it starts rolling. I can see for the two and a half years that I’ve been here, starting at the Emirates Stadium with 10,000 people against Chelsea, now coming into last season where we had a sellout against Wolfsburg in the Champions League semi-final, then seeing how that rolls into this season, having attendances over 50,000 numerous times and now we get another sellout.’

Arsenal’s match looks destined to be the second-most highly attended match in England this week, which Eidevall believes will serve as a reminder of the rapid growth of women’s football. ‘You can just compare our average attendance figures from two years ago to last season to this season and you see the growth of that,’ he told reporters.

‘She looked on the pitch like she does in training!’

Taking on London City Lionesses in midweek Conti Cup action afforded Jonas Eidevall the opportunity to grant Vivienne Lia her Gunners debut, which he described as a ‘really nice’ feeling.

‘She’s been with us for most of this season, been a little bit away with an injury that kept her away for a couple of weeks, but she’s made a strong impression in training,’ he continued.

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‘What I really liked about her performance is that she looked like on the pitch like she does in training. She does her thing! She doesn’t change just because it’s a first-team game or with 3 or 4,000 in the stands. She takes on players bravely as she did in practice.’

‘She does that in games and that I really like because that’s what you want with your players, to be able to express themselves and not feel hesitant or like they have to change. They can trust the things they do in training because that’s what brings them to giving them opportunities like this.’

‘Everyone would like to have more of the ball’

Jonas Eidevall spoke of how he believes, given time, Alessia Russo could develop further and become ‘a 20-goal-per-season striker’ in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

‘I think it’s a big part of [Russo’s] development in order to get into more goalscoring opportunities like that. And that’s the thing with most football players, they are always very ambitious and want to help the team and what generally tends to help the team is showing for the ball.’

‘But what you need in football, and especially in the nine position at times, is to create space, both for yourself and for the team. One of the best things to do to create space is to go opposite of where the ball is because it’s really hard for a defender to see both you and the ball at the same time and those are your two biggest cues to have as a defender.’

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‘To work with the positioning, to make sure that you get into those positions more often and by having the right position and the right angle, you will make the most out of it. The amount of touches you will get as a 9 in most football teams is the most limited amount of touches for all the outfield players, and it’s not about increasing the number of those touches, it’s about increasing the quality of those touches.’

‘That’s generally what you need to work on with the forward players. Everyone would like to have more of the ball, but the reality of football is that areas of the pitch are going to be more restricted and you will have fewer touches, so it’s about dealing with that and the reality of having fewer touches on the ball and not getting impatient and going towards the ball at the wrong moment and instead anticipating to go at the right moment.’

Arsenal host Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, 17 February 2024. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 GMT, and no tickets remain on sale.