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Jonas Eidevall: Arsenal boss wants to avoid playing into Chelsea's hands again

Emma Hayes and Jonas Eidevall at Wembley
Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal were beaten by Emma Hayes’ Chelsea in the Women’s FA Cup final in December
Women’s FA Cup semi-final: Arsenal v Chelsea
Venue: Meadow Park, London Date: Sunday, 17 April Kick-off: 12:30 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website and app.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall is determined not to repeat the mistakes he made when his side last faced Chelsea in the Women’s FA Cup.

That day, last December, Emma Hayes’ side ran out 3-0 winners with a dominant display at Wembley to win the final, which had been delayed from last season because of the pandemic.

The Gunners have another opportunity against the same team in this season’s competition – this time at the semi-final stage when they meet at Meadow Park on Sunday.

“When we played Chelsea in the FA Cup final I was very disappointed with our performance,” Eidevall told BBC Sport.

“I was very disappointed with my game preparation as well. I really played into Chelsea’s hands.”

It was in sharp contrast to when the teams met on his debut as a manager in the Women’s Super League in September, with Arsenal beating the reigning champions 3-2.

More recently the title rivals, who have been competing at the top of the WSL all season, played out a goalless draw in the league.

“We got a lot of things right when we played them at Kingsmeadow in the league in February,” said Eidevall.

“Even if it was 0-0 it was a very, very entertaining game filled with a lot of quality. I hope we can bring that for the supporters [on Sunday].”

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‘All about winning’

By Arsenal’s high standards, they have experienced a barren period on the trophy front, having gone three years without claiming any silverware and six years since winning the FA Cup.

But under Eidevall, 39, who joined from Swedish side Rosengard in the summer, the team remain firmly in the hunt for both the FA Cup and league title.

The Swedish manager says winning is what matters to him above all else.

“I’m not here to try and do anything else,” he said. “Sometimes you will have managers and coaches that will buy themselves time and say ‘OK, we need to have a really long process and look at many different factors other than winning’.

“For me it is about winning. It’s about doing everything you can to win.

“If we’re not doing that, I’m not happy. That’s what I’m trying to push for every day.”

Arsenal’s run to FA Cup semi-final
Fourth round: 1-0 v London City Lionesses (h)
Fifth round: 4-0 v Liverpool (a)
Quarter-finals: 4-0 v Coventry (h)

Yet the long-time admirer of former Arsenal men’s manager Arsene Wenger says the manner of victory is also important.

“The way Arsenal played football [under Wenger] made a huge impression on me,” he said.

“It basically shows that yes, it’s really important to win, but if you can win in that style, then you can influence people for life as well. You want to do both – and he definitely did.”

‘Think like a squirrel’

Jonas Eidevall shouting on the touchline
Jonas Eidevall says he isn’t relaxed during games because every detail matters

Eidevall began his coaching career aged 23 as an assistant at Swedish men’s team Lund. He went on to manage the side for three years before winning three league titles over two spells with Rosengard in the women’s top flight.

“It was super important for me to work at a lower level before I went to Arsenal,” he said.

“Coaching, like any other job, it’s a lot of hours. You need to make a lot of mistakes as well.

“For me, I feel like I’m still developing as a coach and it’s beneficial before you come into a club as big as Arsenal to have many years’ experience. I’m very grateful for that now I’m here at Arsenal.

“It doesn’t mean I’m going to make every decision right – it just means that I have better experience in dealing with it.”

So what philosophy is Eidevall trying to employ at the north London club?

“If you’re going to play brilliant football, you need to be playing at a state when you’re not overthinking situations,” said the Swede.

“I say you need to think like a squirrel.

“You need to move that fast in order to go up the tree, collect food, eat food – having these lightning-fast reactions, but you can’t do that when you’re overthinking.”

And Eidevall hopes this will be the first of many seasons with the Gunners.

“I know I’m not going to be Arsenal manager for the rest of my life,” he said, “but I promise to do my best every day and to enjoy every day, and hopefully it can be for a long time.”

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