It's still possible for Arsenal to secure Champions League place

Arsenal's Jill Roord (left) and Manchester City's Lauren Hemp battle for the ball during the FA Wome

Arsenal's Jill Roord (left) and Manchester City's Lauren Hemp battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park, London. - Credit: PA

Joe Montemurro says "it's still possible" for Arsenal to qualify for the Champions League next season despite losing 2-1 to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

City went seven points ahead of the Gunners in third with Montemurro saying: "We can only control the controllables and that’s for us to be as competitive as possible and play our brand of football week in week out.

"There’s ten games left and 30 points still available, there’s a lot of football to be played yet." 

Montemurro added when asked if the Gunners can still go on and win the title: "There’s a lot of football to play, I wouldn’t count us out just yet.

"I believe in the squad and what we’re trying to do and we’ll keep fighting, hopefully we can get a full squad back.

Manchester City's Georgia Stanway and Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy (right) during the FA Women's Super

Manchester City's Georgia Stanway and Arsenal's Lotte Wubben-Moy (right) during the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park, London. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2021. - Credit: PA


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"I don’t think we’ve had that in any game this season. It’s not because I don’t believe in the squad, it’s just that as a coach you want to have the options to make the decisions you need to make.

"You want to plan normally but it’s very difficult when you plan for a certain player to play and they can’t finish the week’s training. But that’s just the way it is and we’re going to keep fighting."

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Ellen White put Manchester City ahead in the first half and on the half as a whole Montemurro said: "The distancing could have been better in the first half in terms of where we were positioning ourselves.

"We were struggling to find the distances in terms of getting outlets for the centre backs and full backs to play.

"That broke a bit of our rhythm in the first half. The game was always going to ebb and flow. It was always going to be bits and pieces and we didn’t quite have the rhythm in the first half probably from not playing for a few weeks."

Chelsea and Manchester United also both lost on Sunday, and he said: "We don’t really look at the other results. We have our own direction to worry about I can only commend the girls on the fight and the effort.

"It’s always a tough game against City and they were just able to keep rhythm and consistency better over the 90 minutes."

Arsenal's Lia Walti (left) and Manchester City's Georgia Stanway battle for the ball during the FA W

Arsenal's Lia Walti (left) and Manchester City's Georgia Stanway battle for the ball during the FA Women's Super League match at Meadow Park, London. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2021. - Credit: PA

Arsenal's front four were more active in the second half and the 51-year-old said: "We wanted a bit more depth in build up and not too early into the first phase of play.

"I felt in the first half even Leah Williamson was going too early into that middle part of the pitch when receiving the ball from the goalkeeper.

"We needed to shift either their 10 or their six by coming back around the sides and then we could find the spaces.

"We did that quite well and were pretty dominant from that perspective at that stage of the game." 

On the performance of Jill Roord, who had the ball in the back of the net before she was ruled for offside, Montemurro said: "She’s an important player for us in terms of finding the spaces to go forward. It was very important that she positioned herself as the first outlet and that gives Vivianne Miedema an opportunity to find an opportunity in the second phase.

"City were making sure that the ball didn’t get to her in the first half but in the second half she was able to liberate herself to keep the ball a little higher up for us to form attacks." 

Jordan Nobbs, Jennifer Beattie and Kim Little missed out on the game due to injuries and on this aspect he said: "We’ve looked at every aspect in terms of training loads, the pitches we train on, the loading, when and how we recover and whether what we do is frequent.

"Recently there has been an infrequency of games and recovery. It’s hurting because we can’t get into a rhythm.

"Unfortunately accumulation of load, playing and not being able to recover properly does hurt you... I am very frustrated and we are trying to do as much as we can.

"I wish I had a magic wand I wish I had a direct solution but it’s not that clear cut, we’ve looked at all the data and everything."

Arsenal are back in Women's Super League action on Wednesday as they travel to Chelsea in another huge clash for the Gunners. 

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