Arsenal duo Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs have given their backing to the club’s attempts to increase support for its women’s team, and believe the changes can enable them to mount a WSL title challenge this season.
Reports surfaced in April that Arsenal players had raised concerns over the direction of the club, with injury treatment, access to facilities and staff levels among the major issues, which were also understood to be a factor in manager Joe Montemurro’s departure for Juventus.
However, Arsenal chief executive explained in June that the club have taken steps to address the concerns, with investment made across the board.
Both the club’s medical and coaching staff were expanded, with new head coach Jonas Eidevall appointed, while the club have announced that a new women’s football building is in the works at their London Colney training ground.
Arsenal finished nine points behind WSL champions Chelsea last season, but crucially pipped Manchester United to a third-place finish and secured qualification for the Champions League, leaving plenty for the club to be excited about for the upcoming campaign.
Forward Mead and midfielder Nobbs are pleased with what they’ve seen over the summer and are confident the progress will help them pose a challenge to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City in the WSL, which is live on Sky Sports this season.
“I think it’s obviously a positive for us,” Nobbs said. “We’re always trying to push as players to get the best of what we can and the way the game’s gone it’s shot up professionally.
“So the fact that Arsenal are pushing that – it’s what we need as a club and it’s the only way that we’re going to compete to be the best.
“When you get to this level you need all the added extras to beat the best teams, be involved in Champions League, so Arsenal are there to support us and that’s all we’re asking for.”
Mead added: “You can become complacent and other teams can creep away from you.
“Chelsea, Man City – their quality has kind of gone to the next level because of the investment in the game from them.
“It probably showed last season and us as an Arsenal team obviously we have the quality of player but with the help we’re going to get hopefully we can kick onto a new level and compete in the likes of the WSL and Champions League.”
‘Exciting times’ under new boss Eidevall
Eidevall, 38, joined in June from Swedish side Rosengard after helping the Malmo-based club reach the quarter-finals of last season’s Women’s Champions League.
After initially coaching in men’s football, Eidevall joined Rosengard first as an assistant and then as the head coach, achieving back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.
He had a brief spell as Henrik Larsson’s assistant at Helsingborgs, before returning to Rosengard and leading them to the 2018 Swedish Cup and their first league title in four years in 2019.
Eidevall has yet to meet the Arsenal squad in person having been required to quarantine upon his arrival in London, but has been in touch with his players over video calls.
Along with a new head coach, the club have also been active in the transfer market, with the signings of Simone Boye Sorensen from Bayern Munich and Nikita Parris from Lyon their most notable acquisitions.
“We’ve obviously had Zoom calls with him as a team but individually at the moment we’ve probably not had the conversations that most players would probably like at this point,” Mead said.
“We’ve been working on his principles with the coaching staff that we have available at the moment and it’s exciting to look forward to.
“I think he’s going to bring that competitiveness out in us all and the likes of Simone and Nikita coming into the squad is just showing the intent that he wants to do well here and he wants us as players to push on now.
“So it’s exciting times ahead and hopefully we’ll see him in the next few days so we can get going before the season starts.”
Nobbs added: “We want to be winning trophies this year but I’m sure he’s coming in to do that for us. We’ve obviously strengthened our squad already – got a few more players than what we did last season.
“What we’ve seen of him over Zoom he has very high standards and wants us to train hard, win the ball back and I think that’s what we need as a team.
“We have the talent but I think if we have the drive from him as well for competition and in training it will only put us in the best place to win.”