Arsenal Head Coach, Jonas Eidevall, addressed the media ahead of their FA Cup fixture against Manchester City. Sharing his frustrations on the Conti Cup, discussing the postponement of the London City Lionesses game and praising Manu Zinsberger, Jonas touched on some crucial parts of Arsenal's week. 

Arsenal will host Manchester City in a crucial FA Cup fixture with both sides holding the potential to lift the trophy. 

"Yeah, it's a big game against Manchester City. We really look forward to these sort of games. It's gonna be an exciting challenge." Jonas said. 

"We have happy memories and I think we’ve won all the games against Manchester City that I have taken part in at Meadow Park but they're always quite intense games, challenging games - apart from the first one that we won five-nill," he explained.

"I think the games have been decided on small margins and you need to work very hard as a collective to get those. We know and we understand that that's going to be the case this Sunday."

The Gunners suffered a shock 2-1 loss to West Ham - a side in the WSL relegation battle - last weekend. Despite the below par performance, Jonas remained positive ahead of a vital week.

"We had learnings from that game in things that we can control better, especially around the way that that we position when we have the ball and think the players’ response has been very, very good. I think we practise well," he explained.

"I would have really looked forward to see them against London City Lionesses to see how we have progressed since the West Ham game, but now we have to do it against Man City instead."

Due to a waterlogged pitch, Arsenal's midweek match against Championship side, London City Lionesses was postponed, hours before kick off. The rescheduling means that Arsenal player, Emily Fox will be unavailable for the rearranged match next week due to international commitments with the US in the Gold Cup. 

"It was frustrating, but I think it's an example and with the regulations around it and the format of it, I do think it's a tournament that other countries look at and you say that's not how we should run a tournament," Jonas said. 

"We switched our mindsets very quickly. It’s no point on dwelling on the past year so we changed the whole operation in 10 minutes time. We were able to go out and have a good training session here. We obviously have to respect the natural lights here because we don't have any flood lights to train under and making sure the players got nutrition after."

Eidevall was quick to praise the players and staff in adapting to the postponement. 

"I think given the circumstances, the players did a splendid job, the staff did a splendid job making sure that we turned that around and it really showed how far we have come as an organisation in order to be able to do so and still get something out of the day, which was not what we wanted, but it was something and that's much better than none."

The Continental Cup has been heavily criticised over the past few weeks by a number of managers due to the format, rules and circumstances affecting teams. Eidevall added to the conversation, heavily condemned some of the rules and formats of the competition.

"I think how you use the suspensions between the league and the Conti Cup is an absolute joke," he said.

"How you can get a red card in the league or two yellow cards and you'd be suspended for a Conti Cup and you can come back and play in the next league game. I don't see how you how you mix two competitions, especially when not all teams in the league are a part of that competition."

Jonas recognised the wider issues with pitches and facilities within women's football but was particularly frustrated with the rules and guidance in the competition regarding inadequate pitches. 

"Then we have the pitches. That's maybe more of women's football problem than a Conti Cup problem, but still it affects us here," Eidevall explained.

"Now in the Conti Cup if you don't have a pitch that you can play on because we're playing these games very tight in comparison here with the FA Cup and the league - what is the plan if you can't play in your pitch? Do you have a reserve pitch that you can play on instead? Can we move the game to somewhere else?"

  • Manu Zinsberger criticism 

First choice goalkeeper signed a contract extension in January, despite an expected move in the summer. The 28-year-old Austrian international has come under scrutiny from her poor performance against West Ham however, Eidevall was quick to defend Zinsberger. 

"We work with athletes to try their very, very best in in every situation and we see it at all levels of the game, but sometimes mistakes happens," he explained.

"The worst thing I think you can do when those mistakes happens is to react in a way where it's not acceptable, because now what you create is a culture of fear, a fear of making mistakes and that's not at the football that we want to portray. We want to be a brave team. We want to be a team that take initiative".

"You have to have a culture of bravery and that means that mistakes is going to be a part of it. A person that never does anything will maybe never commit any clear mistakes, but it's probably the biggest mistake you do to be passive and not taking initiative."

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About the author
Polly Starkie
Multimedia Women's Sports Journalist & Broadcaster (Football & Cricket)