Jonas Eidevall: ‘We need to be on our very best behaviour’ as Arsenal welcome Aston Villa for Conti Cup semifinal

Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal were left with very little time to savour Sunday’s dramatic North London Derby victory over Tottenham Hotspur, with the Gunners returning to Conti Cup action on Wednesday evening.

They’ll welcome Aston Villa to Meadow Park, and in his pre-match press conference, Eidevall took the opportunity to praise the Villans’ development since the two sides clashed at Emirates Stadium earlier this season.

‘They have a lot to play for being in the semi-finals, just as we do… I think you have seen a Villa side that has been progressing and developing after the new year. We need to be on our very best behaviour and performance tomorrow in order to get the result we want.’

Arsenal lifted the Conti Cup at Selhurst Park last season, and Eidevall expressed his desires to retain the title. The 2023/24 final will be held at Molineux on 31 March, and the Gunners boss told reporters that ‘we’re going to do our very, very best to try to go to another final.’

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I’ve been on the good side of winning in my head coach career and won a lot of trophies, and for me you’re always hungry for more of it. It’s not like you think that you’re done just because you won one trophy.’

‘The harder part in football and in life to be honest is to be on a high level for a long time, being consistent in doing that and finding new ways to elevate and to develop and that’s where I think when you look back at things that’s where you can find some real pleasure in doing and we now have that opportunity to defend a trophy and to win something back to back and for me that’s even more special than doing just one thing once, so let’s really try to savour that moment and make the most out of it.’

Eidevall added that there have been no changes to player availability since Sunday’s North London Derby, though Katie Reid will be ineligible to play ‘because she was in the Conti Cup [for] Watford. But we also know for obvious reasons that it’s also the case for Aston Villa, they also have some cup-tied players.’

Much of the focus surrounding Arsenal in recent weeks has been on the club’s consistent ability to draw sizeable crowds to their fixtures. Wednesday’s Conti Cup clash will be the first time the Gunners have played at Meadow Park since they were knocked out of the Adobe Women’s FA Cup by Manchester City.

Having played their last two matches against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in front of more than 60,000 fans at Emirates Stadium, returning to a sub-4k crowd on Wednesday will perhaps feel strange for the Gunners.

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‘It is really important that while I understand some other clubs might be seeing what we’re doing and maybe want to replicate that or learn things from it, we need to keep going as well because I don’t think we’ve seen our full potential yet either and it’s very much to provide this consistent home to our fans where we’re at now and that’s what we need to try and build on,’ Eidevall told reporters on Tuesday morning. 

Arsenal have also mastered the art of away ends, and the Gunners boss was keen to praise the fans who will be making the trip to Stamford Bridge next Friday. More than 2,000 away tickets were sold within the first 15 minutes of them going on sale.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me,’ said Eidevall. ‘I think if they made a bigger away allocation at Stamford Bridge I think we’d sell it out, so it’s just another sign of the massive support that we have and that’s of course incredible.’

Arsenal host Aston Villa at Meadow Park on Wednesday evening, with kickoff scheduled for 19:15 GMT.