If a lifetime of consuming football teaches you anything, it is to always expect the unexpected. But even with full awareness of that, some events just take you by surprise. Sitting in the Groupama Stadium watching Arsenal lead the European Champions 5-1 with 20 minutes to play was one such moment. Jonas Eidevall described it as “a special night” after his side inflicted Lyon’s heaviest defeat since April 2006.
It was an evening of controversy, fiery challenges and torrential rain as Arsenal squeaked past Ajax to reach the Group Stage of the Champions League. A sole goal from Vivianne Miedema saw the Gunners through in a scrappy affair in Amsterdam.
It seems surreal that a little over a month ago, Leah Williamson was leading out the Lionesses to lift the Euro 2022 trophy at Wembley. A magical end to a script that England fans are not used to reading. In that moment, women’s football in this country changed, propelling it and the members of the England team into the hearts and minds of the nation.
“It is a very special moment being a childhood fan, being at the Emirates and scoring an important goal like that. You work with a player every day and they get to live a moment like this. We’re all very happy for the goal as a team but also for Lotte as an individual and understand that it’s a special moment.”
As Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall alluded to, football has a habit of tugging at those heart strings. Those special moments it creates were no better illustrated than when Lotte Wubben-Moy found herself in space in the box to hammer home a valuable equaliser for her side. Having come through the Academy and an Arsenal fan through and through, it was the perfect script for the young defender’s first start at the Emirates.
“I think it was a very, very entertaining game. I think it was the best game that has been played in the league so far this season. It was two very, very good teams. And I think both teams had chances to win the game.”
That was Jonas Eidevall’s conclusion to a scintillating night of football that saw the two best teams in the country go head-to head.
It is hard to disagree with him. Not many things are certain in life but entertaining London derbies in the FAWSL are one of them. We were in for a treat on Friday, an extravaganza of football that was described by one commentator as the “most exciting 0-0 draw” he’d ever seen.
“I love the group stage. Such a great idea. It was so needed, and it’s really helped. I think it will help every team and develop the pool of quality teams across Europe.”
As the Champions League returned for its final two match days in the Group stage, Chelsea manager, Emma Hayes, made a ringing endorsement for the competition’s new format. Drama, high quality football, big stadia, increased visibility and much more – the Champions League Group Stage has had it all. As the final games of this new addition come to an end, it seems as good a time as any to reflect on what a brilliant adaptation it has been.
The resilience of this season’s Reading side has not gone unnoticed. Yes, they have struggled to score goals, but they have five draws to their name this season, including Manchester City and Everton, while they took Manchester United pretty close.
Arsenal took on Manchester City in the semi-finals of the Continental Cup.