In a night of missed chances, Frida Maanum stepped up once again for Arsenal to help the Gunners return to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Leicester City. Maanum picked up the ball from substitute Jodie Taylor just inside the penalty area and curled a sumptuous strike into the top corner to help Arsenal close the gap on the Champions League places.
It was a performance that Arsenal fans have become accustomed to seeing from the Norwegian midfielder, and it was no surprise that head coach Jonas Eidevall was full of praise.
“Again, incredible. Also that versatility that she starts as a 6 and she can come up as a 10 and of course that’s what you see when we play her as a 6, she does that good, but you really see what you’re missing when you don’t play her as a 10.
“She’s so good in front of that defending line, the power she has, touch, the way she engages defence, and if you don’t step against her, she shoots, so it becomes a really really hard task I think for the defending team to allow her time and space, she shoots. If you start to step up, of course it frees up another player. That’s exactly the kind of decision-making you want to try and force your opposition.”
Eidevall also produced one of the quotes of the season when reflecting on playing at Meadow Park after entertaining a sold-out Emirates Stadium just a few days ago. “For me personally, it is one of the things that I pride myself on. I enjoy being at Emirates in front of 60,000; I would always enjoy being here in front of a full crowd as well. I’m the same with restaurants, I can really enjoy fine dining but I can really like a place where it is just greasy food and cold beer as well- I can do both! And that's what you need to do as a football team as well. That might be a very weird analogy! It’s the best one I can think about right now.”
On top of managing the transition from Champions League semi final heartbreak to a crucial WSL game, Arsenal had to recover from the setback of Katie McCabe having a penalty saved early on, something that galvanised Leicester as the Gunners struggled to find the back of the net. Eidevall was keen to reiterate that his side were worthy winners. “I think all in all when you look for the game I think we win very well deservedly. We could easily have scored more than the one goal that we do but then you come to that point when you only have scored one goal and you need to manage, and you really want us to hold onto that- getting all of that hard work to mean something like 3 points.”
“Today was not easy and that’s what I said to the players after as well- that game on Monday was a huge game for us and this was a quick turnaround and we have a tight squad. We lost Lina to an injury so we know that this was going to be a tough ask. Leicester really have found their form, especially with this front footed, very aggressive football. We have to remember they beat Liverpool four nothing, convincingly, and have been playing very good lately so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy, so I was very happy with the performance and the result.”