Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall has no doubt England stars Leah Williamson and Beth Mead will return as hungry as ever to add to their medal collection when the new Barclays Women’s Super League campaign gets under way.
Following the postponement of all English football fixtures last weekend as a mark of respect after the Queen’s death, the new domestic season will begin when Arsenal host Brighton in Borehamwood on Friday night.
Meadow Park is a far cry from the bumper 87,192 Wembley crowd which roared the Lionesses on to victory over Germany in the Euro 2022 final earlier this summer.
Nevertheless, Eidevall feels the likes of England captain Williamson and Euro 2022 Golden Boot winner Mead – along with defender Lotte Wubben-Moy, who was also part of Sarina Weigman’s successful squad – will be out to prove themselves all over again back in club colours.
“Part of the mental strength needed to be an excellent footballer is to concentrate on the pitch and to remember that, just because you have won something before – that’s great, it’s an achievement – but you are not entitled to anything for it on the pitch for future games,” the Swede said.
“You still have to do everything from the beginning every time you go on the pitch. Every day, you have to earn your right to play. You don’t get anything for free in football.
“That is the mindset you have to have, no matter how much you have won before or how many awards you have got – you have to start on the same page as everyone else.”
Eidevall added: “It’s important to emphasise that we have a lot of players that have been in finals, who have also won things before this summer. It is the shared pool of all those experiences that is really important.”
While the spotlight may firmly be on whether Mead can carry the momentum from the six goals she scored during the tournament into club football, Eidevall expects the 27-year-old to take it all in her stride.
“She brought the same intensity to the Euros as she had been doing with Arsenal, and she brings the same intensity back to Arsenal again now,” the Arsenal head coach said.
“You never know with people and the future, and that is why it is important that no matter how much you have won, it is about what are you moving forward and what you are doing in the present.
“That is where Beth needs to look forward, but every player in Arsenal needs to do that in order to achieve new things, because football is never standing still, so as a club, or a player, or a coach, we can’t stand still.”
Arsenal expect to have Australian pair Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord available after picking up minor knocks during the recent international break.
Eidevall has been impressed with the way Brighton are shaping up for the new WSL campaign.
“Some of the players they have got in over this window are of a really high quality, so we are expecting and preparing for a competitive game,” he said.
Brighton head coach Hope Powell is confident her squad will be ready to make the most of being centre stage on the opening night of the new campaign.
"I like Friday night games. It's a sell-out match which is good for us and the game.— Brighton & Hove Albion Women (@BHAFCWomen) September 15, 2022
“I like Friday night games. It’s a sell-out match which is good for us and the game,” she told a press conference.
“The expectation is for Arsenal to win the game, but we won’t give it to them, we’ll make it difficult.”
“The squad is looking forward to it. For some, the league is new to them. The summer has been quite a long one so they’re ready to play now and are excited for it.”
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