The demands of competing in Europe may already be taking their toll on Arsenal after Joe Montemurro expressed concerns over his players’ ability to recover ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Slavia Praha.
Arsenal, the reigning FA Women’s Super League champions, are competing in the Champions League for the first time since 2013 and will be heading to Prague aiming to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat by Chelsea in the domestic top-flight on Sunday.
The Gunners may have sailed through the last round to progress to the last 16, beating last year’s Serie A runners-up Fiorentina 6-0 on aggregate, but Montemurro knows beating Slavia Praha is going to be a whole different challenge, with many of his squad still recovering from international duty.
The likes of Jordan Nobbs, Beth Mead and Leah Williamson had only just returned from England duty in Portugal ahead of the Chelsea game, while Danielle van de Donk and Vivianne Miedema were also both away with Holland.
Domestic and European success may be the goal for WSL front-runners Arsenal, and Montemurro knows to succeed at the top level, his players need to be able to withstand the pressure.
“Obviously, recovering players is going to be a big one. We've only had a three-day turnaround to work with,” said the Arsenal boss.
“Most of our players played two games with their national teams so some of them haven't had much recovery, but that's football. That's the way it is. There's no excuses.
“They want to be professional footballers and we want to be in the professional game, so we have to be able to play game after game
“We have a way we want to play against Slavia Prague on Wednesday. We have our own style and it's important we get back to that.”
Looking forward to our next Champions League clash in Prague tomorrow ... (📸: Arsenal Media) pic.twitter.com/PmO5UaMJ0i— Joe Montemurro (@MontemurroJoe) October 15, 2019
The first leg kicks off in Prague on Wednesday evening, the return taking place at Meadow Park in two weeks, adding to an already tough October for the Gunners who face current table toppers Manchester City in the WSL next weekend.
If Arsenal want to progress in Europe while continuing their quest to retain their league title, the main concern for Montemurro will be keeping his high-flying squad of international stars fit to avoid a repeat of last season where the likes of Nobbs, Kim Little and Danielle Carter ended up unavailable for the duration.