Jonas Edvall described Arsenal’s first-half performance against Manchester United as “disconnected”, as Arsenal fell to their first defeat in the world top flight of the season at the Emirates on Saturday.
Arsenal had trailed 1–0 at half time to an Ella Ton strike and struggled to create any obvious openings, before goals from Frieda Mannum and Laura Finreuther left Arsenal in front with 10 minutes remaining.
However, Millie Turner equalized in the 85th minute, before Alicia Russo headed home in injury time to give United a 3-2 victory and end Arsenal’s 100% start to the WSL season.
“I thought in the first half it was a lot about our positioning,” Edivall said. “We were too separate, not providing enough short passing options around the ball.
“In the second half our decision-making let us down at times. Positioning was better but we ended up making some weird decisions with the ball. The result was that we didn’t have a lot when we had 45-60 seconds in United’s half and they kept attacking.
“We were poor in the first half because we broke away because we didn’t have short enough options for the ball, we were positioned high too early and we weren’t composed enough. It meant I didn’t really get to know us as a team.
“I’ve told the players I understand we can win or lose football games but I don’t think anyone here should accept we can lose and not look like Arsenal. We had to turn around. United are a good team and they can score from set-pieces and so on.” But I still think if we played the way we did in the second half in the first half, it would have been good enough to win the game.”
United’s equaliser, and winner, came from the thrill of set-pieces delivered from Katie Zelm. Turner headed the underside of the bar with a free kick, before Rousseau rose higher to head home from a corner kick. Edivall admitted his disappointment in the way his team admitted it.
“We need to do it better,” the Arsenal boss added. “They are two uncontested headers and we know they serve well and they have good target players. There is no way anyone can head the ball unchallenged into the penalty area.
“If they score on first contact and are contested and challenged to our limits, then we have to accept that. But we can’t accept uncontested titles. I’m disappointed with that; we need to look at that separately and do better next time and try to conserve some things.” We did well in this match.”