Arsenal give glimpse of what is possible in late comeback vs Manchester City

Arsenal beat City 2-1 in the WSL
Arsenal beat City 2-1 in the WSL -Credit:Photo by Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Jonas Eidevall's pre-match message was clear.

As the Arsenal boss addressed the media ahead of his team's clash with Manchester City, he was keen to point out the similarities between himself and opposition boss, Gareth Taylor. Last season, City finished level on points with the Gunners but their inferior goal difference saw them end the campaign behind the North Londoners and outside of the European places.

Fast forward to now, though, and the Blues have the chance to win their first Women's Super League (WSL) title since 2016, even if Sunday's 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at the Joie Stadium means Chelsea can now spoil their party. "That is where we need to keep our belief in what we are trying to achieve," Eidevall said.

"That is what City have been doing very well, at times when they didn’t get the results, like last season which was, of course, disappointing for them to finish 4th, they kept their belief in the players, in the coach and that was the right decision for them.

"Everything underlying showed them they were on the right path and that has given them success this season."

It's clear that, in drawing parallels between the two clubs, Eidevall was trying to highlight the virtues of giving a manager time. City missed out on Champions League qualification last season but the Blues are now reaping the rewards of standing by their man.

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Taylor was handed a new three-year contract back in March and, before this weekend's defeat, his side had won a record 14 consecutive league games. Judging by Arsenal's inconsistency this season, it feels like it could be some time before we see the Gunners scale those heights.

However, their latest triumph - secured thanks to two late goals from substitute Stina Blackstenius - is proof of the undeniable quality within Eidevall's squad. "I think when we look at the season we've been lacking consistency but we definitely have shown a really high potential and that's where these results come from," the Arsenal boss said after his side's victory in east Manchester.

"But if we take our eyes away from the league table for a moment, for us coming here, getting a win – which I think is seven years since we did – so to come here and achieve that, it was not only about this season, but about us setting a footprint for next season.

"We were able to show what we have progressed and developed. We know we have things we can start better at next season than we did this year but we need to learn from that. The potential and the quality the players played with today… I’m very happy.”

Of course, Eidevall's biggest task is harnessing that potential to help Arsenal become a dominant European force once more. There have been plenty of highs for the Gunners this season, with March's Continental League Cup triumph over Chelsea the highlight.

Eidevall's side have also enjoyed great success against their nearest rivals in the WSL, picking up 13 out of a possible 18 points against Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.

That they boast such an impressive record in those big games and will almost certainly finish no higher than third this term speaks volumes about the scale of their underperformance against teams well below them in the table. Defeats to Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have cost them dear and it is this issue - the inability to find a way to win against sides that are set up to frustrate - that must be addressed next term.

"I remember when we were talking before our (Champions League) quarter-final against Bayern Munich last season, I said I truly feel we can beat any team in the world," Eidevall said. "If we get our things right then we are that good.

"We have shown that this season as well but what we need to fix is some details around us, being able to be more consistent and more effective with both goalscoring opportunities for us and against us.

"If we do that we have the foundations to be successful but those small details will not take care of themselves. Even if you have the foundations, it requires a massive amount of work to be able to get that right next season and we need to be prepared to do that."

Certainly, Arsenal showed they were not afraid to put in the work on Sunday afternoon. After Lauren Hemp's opener had set City on course for three points at the Joie Stadium, the Gunners dug deep to prevent the league leaders from inflicting any further damage.

Despite having little left to play for this term, an impressive second half showing from the visitors saw City clinging on before Blackstenius' late brace helped yield one of the most impressive comebacks of the WSL season. It is a win that means very little in terms of tangible reward but one that provides yet another tantalising example of what this side can achieve when all of the pieces fall into place.

Next term will be Eidevall's fourth season in charge of the Gunners, with the Swede having signed a three-year contract extension last October. In that sense, he has time on his side, and yet it feels like the clock is ticking for the Arsenal boss as he bids to take the club back to the very top.