Arsenal must ‘work as a collective’ to stop in-form Sam Kerr in League Cup final

Arsenal must aim for “perfection” in their efforts to stop Sam Kerr in Sunday’s Continental Tyres League Cup final against Chelsea, according to Jonas Eidevall.

Kerr’s goal in the Blues’ 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory over the Gunners last weekend was her 81st in 100 games for Chelsea, and her 10th since the turn of the year.

Arsenal boss Eidevall said: “I think Sam Kerr is of course a very good player, but whenever you play a team like Chelsea you can’t only focus on one player.

Kerr nets Chelsea's second in their FA Cup win against Arsenal last weekend (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Kerr netted Chelsea’s second in their FA Cup win against Arsenal last weekend (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“It’s about how you work as a collective and stop that.

“You could see in the game we played last Sunday, the number of touches and situations Sam Kerr had, it wasn’t a lot.

“I think the most part of the game we were doing a really good job, and it’s about continuing to do that and doing it until perfection this time.”

While Chelsea have Kerr firing, Arsenal are without two star forwards in Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema.

Both sustained ACL injuries in the last few weeks of 2022 and the January transfer window saw Arsenal fail to bring a new forward in, with a world-record bid for Manchester United’s Alessia Russo being rejected.

Beth Mead in action for Arsenal
Arsenal are without Beth Mead (pictured) and Vivianne Miedema due to ACL injuries (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)

When Eidevall – whose side are on a three match winless run in the Women’s Super League that includes being held 1-1 at home by Chelsea due to a late Kerr goal – was asked about the difficulty of having Mead and Miedema sidelined, he said: “It’s about not to focus on problems, it’s about focus on possibilities.

“You can’t change certain things, and one of the things you can’t change is for example now the squad when the transfer window closed.

“But what you can change is the way we attack together, and to see these possibilities. And I think there was some really good elements from the game we played last Sunday, but there were also things where you can see like here we can work better together, and getting even better use of the players we have on the pitch and their strengths.

“That’s what we as a team need to utilise more often, and that’s what I’m thinking about, and that’s what can make us better for the future.

“What we can control is how we do things, how we are playing, how we are behaving, what our mindset is, and that’s what we need to put 100 per cent of our focus on.

Arsenal boss JOnas Eidevall (Isaac Parkin/PA)
Jonas Eidevall has been in charge of Arsenal since the summer of 2021 (Isaac Parkin/PA)

“If we are doing that well enough, I have much high belief that we have a good chance of winning a trophy.”

Arsenal last lifted silverware in 2019, since when Emma Hayes’ Chelsea have claimed three WSL titles, two FA Cups and two League Cups.

Eidevall, who has been in charge of the Gunners since the summer of 2021, was asked if he felt added pressure due to the length of time since Arsenal last won a trophy and said: “From a historical perspective, no.

“As what we want to achieve, and to make the most out of the final, of course I feel pressure with that, because when it means a lot to you, that will always come into the terms of feeling pressure.

“I care a lot about what we do on Sunday, so of course I feel that pressure. But that’s a part of being a manager at this level.”

Forward Lina Hurtig could make a return from injury in the sold-out contest at Selhurst Park, which is set to break the Women’s League Cup final attendance record.

With almost 24,000 tickets issued, the current record of 8,004 that watched last season’s final at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, a 3-1 win for Manchester City over Chelsea, is set to be smashed.