Clare Wheatley’s masterplan
How successful is Arsenal’s squad building?
In the 82nd minute of Arsenal’s Champions League semi-final second-leg against Wolfsburg, Laura Wienroither went down injured. It would be Arsenal’s fourth anterior-cruciate ligament injury of the season, as Wienroither joined Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and Leah Williamson on the sidelines. Any squad in the world would struggle with four season-ending injuries like this, but it has also put extra pressure on Arsenal’s squad building. How do you balance the eventual return of your injured players against the need to recruit in their absence?
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Last season, Jonas Eidevall dealt admirably with the issues he faced with an impressively deep Champions League run alongside securing Champions League football. It was clear, once again, that there was some dead wood he wanted to trim from his squad. Jordan Nobbs and Mana Iwabuchi played 504 and 119 minutes respectively before being moved on in the January window, whilst Gio Quieroz who was recalled from her loan at Everton played 252 minutes in the second half of the season. It is understandable that a manager does not want to play players he does not trust or who do not fit their style, but that further reduced Arsenal’s squad.
This summer was an opportunity for Arsenal to redress these issues ahead of a new season. Their Continental Cup win ended the wait for silverware but Eidevall will want to ensure that that is not a one-off, as he enters his third season with the club. Working in conjunction with Arsenal’s Head of Women’s Football, Clare Wheatley, they have so far brought in four players.
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