Jonas Eidevall: "I'm  extremely proud of being able to say that more than 60,000 people have found a place where they feel they belong there."
Jonas Eidevall, Manager of Arsenal, applauds the fans after the Barclays Women's Super League match between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on March 03, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal comfortably saw off their North London opponents, courtesy of a second-half strike from Alessia Russo. 

60,050 spectators were in attendance at the Emirates Stadium to watch the Gunners face off against Robert Vilahamn's well-organised Spurs side, in the fourth of six games that the women will play at Arsenal's main ground this season. 

It was a nervous affair in the first half, with the visitors having the best opportunity through Jessica Naz. The former Arsenal player was fed through by Grace Clinton, but her effort struck the crossbar.

The Gunners opened the scoring with the eventual match-winner through Alessia Russo. The England international was found in the penalty area by Beth Mead, and fired her shot past Becky Spencer.

Having lost 1-0 in the reverse fixture, Jonas Eidevall had questions to answer on whether he could beat Vilahamn's side, and a comfortable victory was the perfect response to the critics. 

  • On playing against a low block

Having already found a way to beat Arsenal in the WSL, there was no surprise that Vilahamn would deploy another deep defensive block to deny the Gunners from running riot. 

Arsenal found it hard to find the breakthrough in the first half, earning successive set pieces but to no avail. 

"The first half we played a lot of good situations up to the final third but what we were missing there was to create a bit more of the clear cut chances. It is a tight, low block we play against, I don’t know exactly how many corners we created in the first half, which is a major part of that.

"When you are playing against a low block, it is important to understand that the reward seldom comes in the first half, it more often comes in the second half. We needed to keep the patience and keep the quality to make that happen and that was enough today," Eidevall said. 

  • Alessia and Beth's relationship

Alessia Russo and Beth Mead combined once again at the Emirates Stadium, in what turned out to be the only goal of the match.

The pair share ten WSL goals between them and threaten any defence, regardless of whether it is at club or national level. 

With star striker Vivianne Miedema still sidelined with a hamstring injury, it will be up to Mead, Russo and Stina Blackstenius to provide the majority of the attacking quality while leading the line, as Arsenal push to make a late title charge. 

When asked about their relationship, Eidevall told VAVEL, "Key relationships take time to develop but one aspect that sometimes is overlooked in professional football is that when players are able to keep that relationship also when they go away with the national team.

"That means that they don't have to stop-start that relationship. They can keep building on that the whole time and Beth and Alessia are a prime example of that. They can continue to work on their relationship both at club level and national team level which I think makes it a little bit easier when you have only a couple of days preparation after the international break."

  • On the home crowd 

An outstanding 60,050 filled the Emirates Stadium in anticipation of an enthralling North London derby clash. 

It is the third time that the women's side have sold out the Emirates, having done so previously against VfL Wolfsburg and two weeks back against Manchester United.

When asked about his thoughts on the growing numbers, Eidevall responded:

"I was thinking about the quote from Dennis Bergkamp, that you do not support a football club because of an individual or for history or for a trophy, instead you go and support a team because you found an environment where you feel that you belong.

"That is what makes me extremely proud of being able to say that more than 60,000 people have found a place where they feel they belong there. They feel this is their home and where they want to come and support their team."

"That is very special and that is something we need to keep alive and building on but that is a special feeling that we have been able to create that."

  • On the difference from last time

While historically Arsenal have found it relatively easy to fly past Spurs, Robert Vilahamn has been growing a side that can challenge with the best of the crop in the WSL. 

Spurs currently sit in 6th, but their results against Arsenal have been a lot closer than that of previous seasons. The Lilywhites have already taken three points off the Gunners in December, and also took them to a penalty shootout in the Conti Cup three days prior. 

Eidevall praised the opponents, but was also very content with his own team's performance to obtain the most important thing, the result. 

"They signed a lot of players this year (five), they are really investing in their squad. However, this game is the same, they have a very defensive mindset and they do that well. But nothing changed, it was the same game."

"The thing that changed was that we were able to be more effective with our goalscoring opportunities. The last game against them in the league I think we win the majority of the time and I think it’s the same as the game today but it was nice to get the win today," Eidevall answered.

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