Women's Football

Jonas Eidevall & Emma Hayes react to Arsenal's thrilling WSL win over Chelsea

Toby Cudworth
Jonas Eidevall's Arsenal outwitted Emma Hayes' Chelsea
Jonas Eidevall's Arsenal outwitted Emma Hayes' Chelsea / Visionhaus/Getty Images

There may not have been any Premier League action this weekend, but there was elite level football on offer in London on Sunday - as Arsenal took on reigning Women's Super League champions Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium in both side's opening game of the season.

Over 8,000 fans were in attendance as the Gunners kicked off their campaign in style with a 3-2 win in what was a pulsating and tremendously entertaining contest.

The home side were dominant early on and were rewarded for their fast start by talismanic striker Vivianne Miedema. The 25-year-old, renowned as one of the most clinical finishers in the world, broke free down the left flank, twisting Jessica Carter inside out before firing inside Ann-Katrin Berger's near post.

Chelsea got back into the game just before half-time through Erin Cuthbert's composed first-time finish, but Beth Mead's quick-fire brace soon had Arsenal fully back in the ascendancy.

Pernille Harder's quality header ensured a grandstand finish, but Jonas Eidevall - taking charge of his first WSL game after succeeding Joe Montemurro - was able to celebrate an outstanding victory against a Chelsea side full of international superstars, played out in front of a boisterous north London crowd.

Here's what he, and Chelsea boss Emma Hayes, had to say to Sky Sports after the game:

What did Eidevall say?

Jonas Eidevall
Eidevall enjoyed Miedama's opening goal / Visionhaus/Getty Images

"It's a season opener, a big experience for me and the team and the club here to play a competitive game at Emirates. It was so nice we could reward the Arsenal fans with a win today, and they were magnificent during the game. I know it wasn't a full house but it sure sounded like it.

"In the beginning of the game, I thought we played out from their pressure in a really good way. We were calm and composed and we were punishing their pretty high defensive line. Then we stopped running and we get into problems, both in our pressing and build-up play.

"Then how we managed to win the game is that we showed a lot of heart defending in our box. We've talked a lot about when we defend low, we need to prioritise the central areas, we can't be too stressed in trying to put pressure on them at all costs in the wider areas.

"We did that a little bit early in the second half and they punished us pretty hard by playing into the pocket, but once we got that sorted, we had sort of control.

Beth Mead, Mana Iwabuchi
Beth Mead (second left) scored a terrific brace / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

What does Eidevall think Arsenal need to improve?

"I'm new in English football, I'm new at the club and we need to develop long-term. I'm delighted that we won today, but we have a lot of learning points from this game. We are not a finished project, we are in the beginning.

"When I look at this game, I wanted a good performance, but to develop, we need to learn. This was fantastic opportunity to do so and I hope we can grow during the season, or I expect us to or I'm not doing a good job!"

What did Hayes say?

"First of all, congratulations to Arsenal. I thought the advantages of them being together showed in certain situations, but you also can't concede three goals away and win games, no matter how good our attack is.

"I thought we kept the ball well, we created OK chances in the first half. I thought we thoroughly deserved our goal but the fashion in which we conceded the first goal showed how important it is that we're set up better in transitions. All three of their goals came from situations, and that's what I thought was the poorest part of our play today.

"They went 3-1 up, she's two yards offside, but we're not there with VAR yet. We should be demanding that. We shouldn't expect lower standards for women's football, we should demand that VAR and goal-line technology is part of our sport and as soon as possible.

Pernille Harder
Pernille Harder's header handed Chelsea a lifeline / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

How did Hayes explain the loss?

"We got ourselves back into the game, and I thought Arsenal defended the central corridor really well. It was really hard to score a goal so late on when they had so many bodies behind the ball.

"We're rusty. Mille and Magda have been at an Olympics and that's their first 90 minutes [of the season]. I think it showed in that. I suspect that's the advantage for a team that has been playing competitive games. I thought Arsenal had that little extra yard in what they were doing.

"I like the challenge. It's the first game of the season and no one wins the league today. We focus on the process and we'll be ready."