Arsenal boss Montemurro proud of his side as they earnt a draw with Chelsea
- Credit: PA
Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro was proud of his team’s performance in their 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, saying they showed “heart and belief”.
Beth Mead put the Gunners ahead in the 86th minute before an own goal from Lotte Wubben-Moy levelled the scores.
On the performance he said: “We can take heart and belief, there’s a lot of words that describe what we can take from the game and what we should be on a regular basis.
“I’ve always believed in this team, I’ve always believed in the personalities of this team. It’s the intent. If the intention is right, we’ll defend well, we’ll attack well.
“It showed today. I’ve probably never been more disappointed than today, not to take all three points.”
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Jill Roord and Kim Little started the game and played the full game on having them back for the battle in the midfield against Chelsea.
Montemurro said: “Not so much the physical battle but I think they could settle on the ball and we had immediate pressure on the ball through their base setup, but I was more happy that we were able to retain the ball and really find gaps and areas to open them up through Beth Mead and Caitlin Foord and probably not so much through Vivianne Miedema but it was a moment of magic from Viv to be able to create the goal.
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“Yes, obviously you plan a team for a starting eleven and we just haven’t been able to put out that starting eleven , but today at least we got a little bit of a taste with the players coming back, but we look forward to everybody else getting fit.”
Miedema moved onto the left for the last 30 minutes against the Blues and on this the Australian boss said: “We told Vivianne to float away and take one of their centre-backs away, and for Caitlin to come centrally, to combine a little bit more.
“They obviously changed their system in the second half. They went with a flat front three up top, with Pernille Harder just behind and Ji and England as pivots, if you want to say that, so we had to make sure we could expose them a little bit further up.
“Look, we got them in that moment. The sad thing is that, even for the cross that they scored, we had that under control, it was a blocked cross. That’s life.”
On dealing with the pressure moments against the defending champions Montemurro said: “We’ve done a lot of soul-searching in those areas, because Chelsea are a great team who can hurt you in certain moments.
“I think the biggest thing this week was not to focus on the outcome, not to focus on being judged on the outcome, but to focus on every moment to focus on how each player can affect the situation how each player can be affective for the team.
“We did a lot of work in that domain and everyone worked in both phases, with the ball and without the ball.
“There was a collective belief today. So as I said before, I’ve always believed in this team, I’ve always believed in the capacity of this team, it’s up to them how far they want to take it. Sometimes it’s more a mental state, it’s more a belief, more an intent, than an actual global sort of thinking.”
On Lotte Wubben-Moy’s own goal after a superb performance from the young English centre-back Montemurro said: “I’ve got to commend Lotte, under a lot of pressure, under the situation, she looked like a seasoned professional today.
“Leah Williamson and Lotte Wubben-Moy, two centre-backs and it’s amazing and maybe something exciting for England going forward.”
Chelsea pressed from the off and on the tactic that saw Arsenal beat that aspect of the Blues game he said: “We’ve localised two areas that they press, it’s either a diamond and a two, or a flat four, with the two up top.
“We felt that if we could pull one of the players away centrally then their wide players would have to narrow up and then we’d have the opportunity to play out in wide areas.
“We did it and we did it with a bit of depth and a bit of smarts too, because the idea then once we got the ball out wide was to change the point of attack through Lia Walti, and we found some good space.”
It was Arsenal’s first Women’s Super League draw since April 2018 and when asked did it feel like a loss with Chelsea scoring at the death Montemurro explained: “Yes, very much. I was speaking to Leah Williamson after the game and I think we were scared from the Yeovil draw in my first year so we’ve tried to avoid draws.
“We’re either full throttle or we’re not very good. There’s no in between. But I’m proud today to say that, against one of the best teams in Europe, I felt we dictated what we needed to do, we defended well and when I hear ‘long ball, second ball’ from the opposition team, with the quality of players they have got, it brings a smile to my face.”