Jonas Eidevall interview: Greats have built foundations at Arsenal - we want to repay them with FA Cup

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Jonas Eidevall has never been to Wembley. The closest he came was four years ago, when he and his wife bought tickets to an Adele concert that they were eventually unable to attend.

There is a certain neatness, then, in the singer being back on top of the charts as Eidevall prepares to lead Arsenal out under the arch for the Women’s FA Cup Final against Chelsea on Sunday.

“I don’t know so much what I’m expecting from it, but what I want to do is to embrace the experience,” he tells Standard Sport. “To make good decisions for the team and to enjoy the moment. It’s special, it’s not for everyone, to play a cup final at Wembley.”

Eidevall’s is not the familiar tale of a foreign manager falling in love with the FA Cup as a young fan, charmed from afar by the magic and mystique of a showpiece final that was, not so long ago, regarded as one of the biggest games in football way beyond these shores. He has “no specific memories” of watching English cup matches on television as a child and says the equivalent competition was “not a big thing” in his native Sweden.

“It was just basically played in the background alongside the league, so I’m really excited to come to England where the cup has this big prestigious role,” he says.

At Arsenal, of course, it is as highly-valued as anywhere. Both the men’s and women’s teams are the most successful in FA Cup history, lifting their respective trophies 14 times each, and Eidevall is under no illusions as to the tradition he is tasked with upholding in a final that — having been pushed back from last season due to the pandemic — arrives only months into his reign.

“When you’re at a club like Arsenal you always want to add more trophies to the cabinet,” he says. “You feel grateful for all the foundations that have been laid by all the great former players and managers and you want to repay them, and thank them, by bringing in more trophies. We feel that.”

Few did more to build that tradition than Arsene Wenger, the most successful men’s manager in FA Cup history, whose autobiography, My Life in Red and White, Eidevall has been reading during the international break.

Wenger often hails Arsenal’s 1997-98 double triumph as the most important of his managerial career, giving him credence within a footballing community that had proudly known little of his existence a season earlier. The potential parallels with Eidevall are clear, the 38-year-old having quickly turned the Gunners into title contenders after being considered a surprise choice to replace Joe Montemurro in the summer. He is reluctant, though, to dwell on the possible significance of a first piece of silverware arriving so early in his tenure.

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

“You never know [what the effect will be],” he says. “What you do know in football is that every moment matters and it’s what you do with those moments. This is an opportunity that we deserve and we need to do everything in our power to try to seize it.”

Even that may not be enough. Chelsea were an all-conquering force in English football last season and the quality at Emma Hayes’s disposal was exemplified again last night, when four Blues players were named in the top 10 of voting for the women’s Ballon d’Or. Arsenal, meanwhile, had just one representative, the magnificent Vivianne Miedema, but Eidevall, you sense, would not swap her for anyone.

“She’s a really intelligent player, great to discuss football with,” he says. “She’s a strong person as well, so she can give you her own opinion. You don’t always need to have the same idea from the start, you can discuss, you can learn from each other.

“I’m super happy working with Viv and how much she cares about the club and the team. I think that’s how she feels about it as well. To me, to be totally honest, it doesn’t matter who wins the Ballon d’Or.”

But of having her on his side for his Wembley bow?

“Now, that matters!”

Read More

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