Bumper crowd can motivate Arsenal to vital WSL win over Chelsea, says Jonas Eidevall

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall hopes his side can benefit from the big crowd in Sunday's Women's Super League top-two showdown with Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

Ticket sales for the clash between the Gunners and champions Chelsea, who they are three points behind with a game in hand, had reached around 45,000 on Friday.

Eidevall told a press conference: “It's the next game, so it's the most important one.

“We've played some thrilling games against Chelsea before, we like to play these kinds of games, and we have the privilege to play it at the Emirates in front of our home fans. With the number of tickets sold, I think it's going to be a great occasion.”

Arsenal beat Tottenham 4-0 at the stadium in front of a WSL-record attendance of 47,367 in September, and there were then 40,064 in attendance for a clash with Manchester United in November that they lost 3-2.

Eidevall added: “I think we are going from one-off occasions having a lot of people at Emirates, to now saying in the WSL this is the third game now in a row that hopefully gets over 40,000 people coming here.

“Maybe there will be a new record here against Chelsea as well. So now, how do we play with the crowd?

“How do we use that crowd to energise the state of game to make it as difficult as possible for the opposing team coming here to play at Emirates? These are the things that we now start to think maybe can be able to gather momentum.”

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes says the noise of the crowd is a prospect she is relishing, with the setting being what makes the fixture “special” in her opinion.

Hayes, who stressed that “to win a league every game has to be treated with the same amount of respect”, said: “It's a fantastic game, and one we look forward to, but it's no more significant to me... than the game the following week against Liverpool.

“However, I love that it's in a big stadium - that for me is the special piece, that we're going to have a packed crowd. That's something we are excited about, that we're going to play with that noise, that volume.”

As well as the blockbuster contest in north London, Sunday's action in the first round of WSL games after the winter break sees Manchester United, two points behind Arsenal in third place, host Liverpool and Manchester City, three points further back in fourth, play at fifth-placed West Ham.

Meanwhile, second-bottom Brighton have their first match under Jens Scheuer as they go to Leicester, the side lying below them and still without a point to their name this term after nine games. Sunday's other match sees Everton face Reading at Walton Hall Park.

Additional reporting by PA.