Having gone 11 games unbeaten in the league, stretching back to January – when they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea – Arsenal slipped to their first league loss of the season to the same opponents, by the same scoreline earlier this month.
The points dropped have left Manchester City as the only team with 100% record after just four league games played. Without much time left to lick their wounds before flying to Prague for the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 15 clash with Slavia, the Gunners fast recovered form. With another big tie at the top of the WSL ahead of them this weekend, we caught up with winger-cum-fullback Lisa Evans to talk about the season so far.
WF: First off, how’ve you found the season so far?
LE: “Good, I think we had a disappointing week against Chelsea but apart from that it’s been good. We had a really good pre-season, we played really top opponents, we’ve had a really good start in the Champions League and on the whole it’s been a good season so far.”
WF: Dropping points to Chelsea, and so early in the season must have been frustrating, was there a post-mortem after the match?
LE: “These games, these are the learning curves, these are the teams that can exploit you and exploit your weaknesses so these are the games you can learn the most from. Not a post-mortem but we talked in detail about what we can do better tactically, physical, mentality and even just managing the game better in situations.”
WF: It certainly seems like the entire level of the league has come up and the type of games people would say were likely to be one-sided in the past are now much more open, is that something you talk about as a squad?
LE: “Probably in the past you could say, ‘this weekend could be an easier game’ but honestly this year, we’ve really noticed the difference in all the teams being profession. Everyone’s a lot fitter, there’s better quality coming from abroad, better youth players coming up. I think it has been really competitive so far and every team can take points off of any team, it’s good for all the teams that there’s such a competitive league and we’re happy to be part of that.”
WF: You’ve arguably had a kind draw, for an unseeded team, in the Champions League. Are there any big targets for your progression in the tournament, or is it just game by game?
LE: “Game by game but, it’s our first year since 2014 so I don’t think we’ve got that much pressure, we were unseeded, we won’t be if we progress, it’s every man for himself really. It’s a cliché, but we’re just focusing on the games as they come and not really looking further ahead than that.”
WF: You are more naturally an attacking player and in the past we might have been talking about your assist and goals stats, playing a more defensive role for Arsenal, do you still set out similar personal goals?
LE: “I do have personal goals, but definitely position dependent, if I’m playing in the back, I want to keep a clean sheet… even if I’m playing as a winger, I want to keep a clean sheet. It’s obviously different… but wherever I am playing, it’s just about doing my job for the team and how best I can do it.”
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