Arsenal Women

Jonas Eidevall marvels at football's unpredictability as Arsenal miss out on WSL title

Ali Rampling
Arsenal narrowly missed out on the WSL title
Arsenal narrowly missed out on the WSL title / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

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Jonas Eidevall was left cursing and marvelling at the unpredictability of football after Arsenal missed out on the WSL title on the final day of the season, despite losing just one league game over the course of the campaign.

The Gunners trailed leaders Chelsea by one point heading into the last round of fixtures, and although they beat West Ham 2-0, the Blues came from 2-1 down at half time to win 4-2 against Manchester United and seal a third consecutive WSL title.

Agonisingly missing out on the title by a single point will naturally lead to retrospective 'what if' points in the season, with Arsenal's loss bottom side Birmingham in January, and their dropped points against Manchester City after the ball rebounded off the referee during the build up to City's goal particular sliding doors moments for the Gunners.

However, Eidevall was determined to not get hung up on this, admitting they have had instances fall in their favour too over the course of the campaign.

"Maybe we had a goal at the Emirates against Chelsea that could have been offside, but at the same time maybe they should have had a red card in that game," the Arsenal boss said.

"Maybe the referee had the best pass of the season for Manchester City and they scored a goal here, and if we won that game we would have been champions.

"But people are doing their very best and it's hurtful to say when you're standing on the losing side of it, it is what makes football great; it's the human factor. It is why people are engaged in this game and why we love it so much, with the unpredictability of it."

Arsenal's only WSL defeat of the season came against Birmingham in their first match back after Christmas. A depleted Gunners side were only able to name five substitutes for the clash due to a combination of injuries and Lydia Williams, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord being granted time off in the buildup to the Asia Cup.

Due to Arsenal's participation in the early rounds of Champions League qualification, the trio of Australian internationals had gone straight from the Olympics into club football without a rest over the summer.

The decision to allow Williams, Catley and Foord to have time off prior to the Asia Cup was one Eidevall admits was a mistake in the short term due to the result against Birmingham, but justified in the long term given how impressive Catley and Foord have been upon their return.

"For the Australians it worked out and because of Covid restrictions, they had barely seen their families for two years. We took the decision that that was the time they could have some time off.

"Of course against Birmingham it was a bad decision from me, but in the long term it was a great decision; you can see both Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley, they've been absolutely amazing since they came back from the Asia Cup.

"And getting that time back home, you can really see how that benefitted them long term. They needed to have that trust from the club, going home to recover, to see their family - that was really important.

"If we had drawn against Birmingham, we would have been the invincibles and we would have won the trophy - that's how small the margins are. We were missing so many players, it was such tough circumstances.

"We were disappointed with our performance there, but it's the human factor. They were a Birmingham away game from being invincibles and you would have said you were the greatest Arsenal team ever."

The Huracan Foundations' 'Keep girls in school in 2022' aims to improve opportunities for girls and reduce gender inequalities.

The global pandemic exacerbated gender inequality issues in a number of countries, and that is why in 2022 four new project leads are focused on using football to make a real difference to girls' lives in remote communities across Uganda and India. To find out more click here.