Arsenal Women: Jonas Eidevall chuffed with Emirates Stadium sell-out – ‘we hope to repay fans’ faith on historic night’
Jonas Eidevall has vowed Arsenal will give everything to repay the faith shown in them as they prepare to battle with Wolfsburg at a sold-out Emirates Stadium for a place in the Women’s Champions League final.
The second leg of the last-four tie takes place on Monday (5.45pm kick-off), with the score locked at 2-2 after the Gunners fought back from two goals down in the first leg in Germany.
Arsenal announced on Sunday morning that, with over 60,000 tickets purchased, the fixture will mark the first capacity crowd for a women’s game staged at the Emirates.
Manager Eidevall said: “It’s a huge occasion for us as a team, as a club. It’s a compliment to a lot of people that have been involved in pushing the sales of the tickets and generating the interest.
“It’s astonishing that it’s happening and we’re going to make our very best to repay all the faith put in us, but also to enjoy the moment. That’s going to be a huge boost for the whole team.
“It’s one game that separates us from a dream, so let’s bring everything on the pitch and leave it there.”
Regarding the sell-out, Eidevall added: “I don’t see this as an end point for it, and for me this has always been the natural progression, that we were going to get here.
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“I hope when we look back on the day in history, we can see that was one of the starting points, where we started making this a regular occurrence.”
Arsenal and England defender Lotte Wubben-Moy said: “I don’t think so [when she was younger] I’d ever dreamed of it [playing at a sold-out Emirates] to be honest. It’s quite an emotional thing for everyone to experience.
“Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, that Euros win [for England last summer]and now the floodgates have opened and we’re getting our just desserts.
“Let’s not forget we’re maybe 50-odd years behind the men’s game.
“Women’s football is in maybe its infant years, we’re walking. But we’re about to start running, and we’re probably about to start sprinting as well. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it, but then I’m also kind of like ‘heck we deserve it’.”
The winners of the tie will meet Barcelona – who got past Chelsea on Thursday – in the final in Eindhoven on June 3.
Arsenal, in the semi-finals for the first time in 10 years, are the only English club to have won the competition, back in 2007.
Arsenal – missing Leah Williamson, Kim Little, Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead through long-term injury – have the fit-again Lina Hurtig back available, but Caitlin Foord remains sidelined.
Will Arsenal repeat first-leg heroics to stave off Wolfsburg?
Arsenal have fallen short in two previous attempts to get past Wolfsburg in the Champions League. Ten years ago, in the 2012/13 semi-finals, English teams did not have such strength to draw upon in their squad against European counterparts.
Last season’s exit, however, is not as excusable. While the Londoners salvaged a 1-1 draw late in the first leg of the quarter-final, in the reverse tie, they were undone by goals in each half, one of which was an own goal from Williamson.
Eidevall’s team had shown a worrying frailty in that fixture; but this season they have discovered a renewed sense of determination, despite the absence of key starters to injuries.
No Mead, Miedema, Little, and most recently, Williamson has left Arsenal severely depleted. And yet they came from behind to win against Chelsea in the Continental Cup final, Manchester City in the league and Bayern Munich in the previous round of the Champions League.
They have not wavered from their battle plan, even with the injury crisis and shortage of replacements. That much was evident last week in Wolfsburg. Two early goals from Ewa Pajor and Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir might have deflated any other side. But the Gunners fought their way back over the price thanks to Rafaelle Souza and Stina Blackstenius’ efforts.
They will need to rediscover their bravery at the Emirates on Monday