Arsenal Women’s manager, Jonas Eidevall has applauded Beth Mead for delivering a “huge” impact upon her return from injury.
Mead came on as a 88th minute substitute for Noelle Maritz almost 11 months after she suffered an Anterior Cruciate Ligament injury, and provided Alessia Russo with a 94th minute comeback winning assist as Arsenal fought back to beat Aston Villa 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium.
Reflecting post-match on Mead’s immediate impact with her “intuitive” approach in a game where Villa often sat back and frustrated Arsenal with defensive blocks, Eidevall described the winger as a “huge” player who played a key role in their comeback.
Eidevall went on to address the prospect of Mead and Russo forming a fearsome partnership, as he quipped: “Let’s hope so, definitely. We’ve seen them together in the national team, so it’s not a hope that is based on just fantasies.
“We have seen that work in realities so let’s hope that, but we have a lot of good relationships going on.”
England Women manager, Sarina Wiegman is set to name her squad for this month’s UEFA Women’s Nations League fixtures against Belgium in the coming days, and Eidevall has refused to rule Mead out of contention for selection.
The Swiss manager explained that his priority will be upon Mead’s fitness as she continues to rebuild her match fitness, as he continued: “How do we manage Beth? It’s not like she’s coming on from here doing 15 minutes and now she’s a 90 minute player from here on.
“It doesn’t work like that, but we work closely with the medical team, like we have been doing all the way here now until she was able to be selected for the squad.
“We’ll continue to take good decisions, which is not too defensive, to not allowing her to play, but certainly also not too offensive or optimistic where we are taking risks that we’re not willing to take.
“It’s really important that we manage this return to play process in a good way and that has not ended yet just because she did 15 minutes on the pitch today.”
This game was Arsenal’s second home match at the Emirates Stadium with 35,829 fans in attendance and Eidevall felt that the crowd were “energised” more than in their opening loss to Liverpool, which he believed was important for “momentum” in the closing stages.
Mead’s substitute appearance however saw the crowd atmosphere rise to another level which pleased Eidevall, as he iterated that he was “happy because she deserves that reception” following her effort to recover “in a really difficult year,both being injured and her mum passed away.”
On what it meant to see Mead provide the winning assist, Eidevall added: “We know that it’s been incredibly tough for her and it’s so nice to see her being back on the pitch, seeing her being able to perform straight away.
“You never know that. You have to hope, otherwise I would never have put her on, but you don’t know it until you’ve seen it and that was very nice, so a special moment.”