Arsenal playing all women’s games at the Emirates ‘a realistic vision’

A crowd of 21,307 fans watched the Gunners reach the Women’s Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday night

Mark Mann-Bryans
Thursday 30 March 2023 00:19 BST
Arsenal are through to the semi-finals (Mike Egerton/PA)
Arsenal are through to the semi-finals (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Jonas Eidevall believes it is a “realistic vision” for Arsenal to play permanently at the Emirates Stadium after they came from behind to beat Bayern Munich and reach the Women’s Champions League semi-finals.

A dominating opening 45 minutes helped the hosts overturn a first-leg deficit as a fine Frida Maanum strike and a Stina Blackstenius header sealed a 2-0 win on the night.

Trailing to a Lea Schuller goal in Germany last week, the hosts recovered from the early loss of Kim Little to progress 2-1 on aggregate.

The win came in front of a crowd of 21,307 fans at the Emirates, with Eidevall’s side having also played to attendances of over 40,000 on three occasions this season.

“I think when we talk about growing the game, that’s absolutely fundamental for creating these moments with our supporters,” the Arsenal boss replied when asked about the decision to move more games to the stadium.

“I think it’s been absolutely fundamental, that without us being able to experience playing here so many times, but also to get supporters here to experience it so many times with us. It helps us to do this tonight.

“I really hope that it continues to push. I get the sense of belief that we’re seeing history getting created very quickly in front of our eyes, when I see how the attendances and the culture is here at the Emirates Stadium.

“Five years ago, if someone would have said that Arsenal’s long-term plan is to move permanently to Emirates Stadium, people would probably have asked ‘how is that going to happen?’, but now I think people understand that that might be a realistic vision for the future.”

Captain Kim Little was forced off injured after 10 minutes and Katie McCabe limped out of the contest late on and is expected to undergo a scan on Thursday, with Eidevall saying both players would be assessed.

The margin of victory should have been much more comfortable but for a fine goalkeeping display from Maria-Luisa Grohs and some wayward finishing from the Arsenal forwards.

Eidevall has guided the Gunners to their first Champions League semi-final since 2013, when they lost to Wolfsburg – who also knocked Arsenal out in the quarter-finals last season.

The Germans could again be standing in the way this time around as currently lead Paris St-Germain 1-0 on aggregate, with the winners meeting Arsenal in the last four.

Two of those in attendance for the fine win were technical director Edu and men’s manager Mikel Arteta, whose side sit top of the Premier League.

“I got a very nice message from Edu after the game,” said Eidevall.

“The support of the whole club is magnificent. They talk a lot about when you’re around Arsenal that we always act with class.

“But when you’re inside the organisation you really understand the meaning of those words. It’s not just something that’s written on a wall.

“It’s ingrained from top management and it spreads down. That communication and belief from them is amazing.”

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