Vivianne Miedema’s header rescued a point for Arsenal, who bounced back from defeat against Manchester United with a solid performance. The Gunners spurned good chances to win, with Stina Blackstenius and Caitlin Foord having good chances saved. Here are three talking points from the match:
1. Arsenal press themselves back into shape
Before the match, Jonas Eidevall admitted that Arsenal would have to change some element of their style. Without Leah Williamson, Rafaelle Souza, Kim Little, and now Beth Mead, Arsenal couldn’t play as before, especially in build-up. It’s still a work in progress: in the second half, the match became far more transitional, and Arsenal struggled to get on the ball. But in the first half, Arsenal excelled with off the ball pressing. At half time, Arsenal had had 10 shots to Juventus’ 6, and Arsenal out tackled Juventus. With Frida Maanum alongside Lia Wälti, with Jordan Nobbs out wide, Arsenal had a much better protected back four, and Juventus’ goal came from one of the few times they were able to play through midfield, with Lia Wälti losing a midfield challenge. Arsenal ran out of energy in the second half and the game became more transitional.
2. Arsenal lack cutting edge
Despite having 10 shots at halftime, Arsenal didn’t score until the second, at which point Juventus had gone ahead. Arsenal had better chances than Juventus, finishing with double the xG—1.3 to .6. However, Arsenal couldn’t finish their chances, especially in the first half: Stina Blackstenius had two good chances, with one hitting the bar and one getting saved. At the end of the match, Caitlin Foord didn’t get a shot away after being played in by Vivianne Miedema, and Blackstenius couldn’t get onto a Foord cross in the first half. The two Blackstenius chances in particular were quite good: .25 and .22 respectively, nearly equalling Juventus’ overall total. Arsenal will need to be more clinical, especially as their other forwards look to take up Beth Mead’s output.
3. Jonas Eidevall doesn’t have game-changers
It goes without saying that Arsenal need to have players back fit, and Eidevall dropped a hint that for the return match against Juventus in two weeks Arsenal might have some players back. It’s not just that Arsenal have thirteen fit first team outfield players at the moment, meaning that the same number of players have to play close to every minute, increasing the risk of injury, but also that Eidevall doesn’t really have options to change the structure or system. One substitute yesterday was like for like; the other, Jen Beattie replacing Jordan Nobbs, saw Katie McCabe push into the attack, with Catley going to left back. Outside of that, Eidevall didn’t really have any options; he could’ve brought on Mana Iwabuchi, but it’s clear at this stage, rightly or wrongly, Eidevall doesn’t consider Iwabuchi a player who can have a positive impact on the game.