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Jonas Eidevall explains how Arsenal plan to cope after Beth Mead ACL injury

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Jonas Eidevall has explained that Arsenal must start building from the basics in order for the team to cope with the long-term absence of Beth Mead.

The Arsenal forward has been instrumental for club and country after enjoying a stunning 2022, but is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering what was later found to be an ACL tear in the WSL clash with Manchester United on Saturday night.

Mead is one of a number of key first team players currently out injured for the Gunners, alongside captain Kim Little and first choice centre back pairing Rafaelle and Leah Williamson.

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Injuries around this time last year had a detrimental impact on Arsenal’s 2021/22 campaign, and Eidevall has said previously that the lessons he learnt from this injury hit period was to be prepared to make small tweaks to how his side play according to the personnel available – and he reinforced the importance of adapting depending on the individuals he selects.

“One of my biggest reflections from the Manchester United game was that; when you change players, you are not only changing one player, you are basically putting a new team out there,” the Arsenal boss explained.

“And that means everything you now do has to start from the basics. And you can’t take for granted that just because we did something three weeks ago that that will automatically happen again. So that’s where we need to work with and don’t forget the basics so we’re building block by block and don’t think that we can build on something we had five weeks ago.

“I think I made a mistake before the United game with that, even if time was short. Now we’ve put that right here for the Juventus game.”

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Mead is one of numerous high profile players in the women’s game currently sidelined with a long-term injury, with many of these players – including Alexia Putellas, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Catarina Macario – also suffering an ACL tear.

WSL rivals Chelsea recently lost Pernille Harder for a ‘significant period’ due to a hamstring injury, and Emma Hayes was critical of the relentless footballing schedule and the impact this has on player welfare. Manchester United boss Marc Skinner has spoken about the need to protect players and Eidevall also noted the congested international football calendar when discussing Mead’s injury.

“Player loading and fatigue is obviously something that we constantly monitor and are concerned about so if that would have been a factor that would have been obvious for us leading up to this game then we wouldn’t have played her,” Eidevall added.

“But then it still can happen which makes it difficult of course. When you see the amount of injuries – yes, I think the schedule of games, especially for players playing tournaments, it doesn’t help with the injury situation.”

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How Karim Benzema could return for France at World Cup

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Karim Benzema may be available to France for their World Cup defence after all after reports emerged of rapid progress in his recovery from injury.

Benzema was feared to be unavailable for the entire tournament after picking up an injury but did not withdraw from the squad, and France manager Didier Deschamps did not call up a replacement, instead opting to take 25 players to Qatar.

Initially feared to be out for around three weeks, Benzema had been the subject of multiple reports in Spain which claim that the Ballon d’Or winner is ahead of that schedule, and he could return to training as early as this week.

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Given he remains a part of the France squad, Benzema is technically still eligible to play at the World Cup and could return to Qatar if all goes well.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!

France have made a strong start to their World Cup defence with victories over Australia and Denmark securing their spot in the last 16 with one group game to spare.

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Les Bleus play Tunisia on Wednesday to round out the group stages, before looking ahead to the knockout stages.



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Who could England face in the World Cup knockout stages?

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Four points from their opening two games have England in the driving seat in Group B at the World Cup.

One final game against Wales will decide whether they reach the knockout stages as group winners or runners up, though there remains the outside chance of an early elimination.

Gareth Southgate will be planning for the knockout stage, however, with a myriad of different nations standing between his squad and the World Cup final.

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Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

England currently top Group B and a win would take them through in first place. A draw is also good enough to progress, though that would open the door for Iran to take first place with a win over the USA.

Only a thrashing of three or more goals from Wales will result in an early elimination for the Three Lions.

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England will have designs on going through the group stage as winners, which would result in a favourable last 16 clash against the runners up of Group A, where the Netherlands, Ecuador and Senegal reside. Finishing second in Group B would see England face the winners of Group A.

As group winners, a win in the round of 16 would see Southgate’s side book a quarter-final clash with either the Group D winners – likely to be France – or the runners up from Group C, where Poland, Argentina, Saudi Arabia and Mexico are all still in contention.

As group runners up, a win in the round of 16 would set up a quarter-final tie against the Group C winners or the runners up from Group D.

There are a number of sides England could face in the semi-finals, but all come from Groups E, F, G and H. That pool includes nations like Spain, Japan, Croatia, Belgium, Brazil and Portugal.

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Gareth Bale responds to question on Wales international future

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Gareth Bale shut down questions on whether the World Cup match against England would be his last for Wales on Tuesday, issuing a flat “no” when asked the question outright.

The Welsh captain is his country’s most capped men’s international player, though speculation has been surrounding the 33-year-old’s future at both club and international level for a number of months.

Bale moved to LAFC in MLS in order to prepare for the World Cup after leaving Real Madrid, and while he scored an equaliser against the United States in game one of Wales’ tournament in Qatar the team have underperformed on the whole, losing 2-0 to Iran last time out.

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They need a win against England to stand any chance of making it through to the knockout stages, and are dependent on other results. Wales’ position in the group and potential fate has naturally produced questions about what happens beyond the England game if Wales go home, but Bale flat out dismissed the question with a no.

Bale did though go into detail on his side’s campaign in Qatar so far, admitting the mood in the camp was low after conceding twice to Iran.

“We’re disappointed in the results and the performances,” he said a day out from the England match. “But that’s football, it’s not easy, we’re at a World Cup against some very good teams and we’ll always give 100%. We’ve been working hard the last few days to make things better and correct things.

“We don’t need to get anyone going, just need to keep working hard and hopefully things will turn around for us.

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“I don’t feel [added] responsibility because we’re a team. We’re a nation and we work hard for each other. We need to deliver as a team, it’s not one person that needs to do anything. Of course we’d have loved to be winning and doing a lot better but the reality is, football is hard. If it was that easy we’d be favourites to win the World Cup. We need to stick together and we’ll give 100% tomorrow like we always do.

“The one thing I always do is give 100%. I was flying into tackles in the 90th minute the other day. I’ll just try and lead by example.”

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

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The World Cup has seen a number of shock results occur to date, with Argentina losing to Saudi Arabia and Morocco beating Belgium among others. Wales beating England would be a result in a similar bracket, but Bale is confident England have weaknesses to exploit.

“Everyone has weaknesses. We’ve done our homework. We’ve had meetings and I’m sure they’ve done the same with us. We know how difficult it will be. England are a very good team, They’re one of the favourites to win the tournament. We are under no illusions, it will be hard, we’re going to give everything like we always do.

“There’s been a few shocks in the tournament already and there’s no reason why we can’t do the same.”

Wales manager Rob Page hinted during his own press conference that Bale or Aaron Ramsey would not necessarily start the game against England, hinting at a need for fresh blood with Wales struggling for energy at times during their opening matches.

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Bale is one of the leading players in the camp and remains firm that the team remain together and confident of turning things around against England.

“Yeah of course we have our responsibility to help everybody,” he added. “At this current moment we are not in the greatest of positions and we have not had an amazing tournament. But it is football, it is not easy. It is difficult. The main thing for us all is that we have stuck together as a group, like we have always done.

“We will fight again. We will go on the pitch and give everything. You saw our reaction when we conceded against Iran, how devastated we all were, lying on the floor. Heartbroken. After the game everybody was upset. No one can ever question our commitment but we will all stick together through thick and thin, through the ups and downs. We will give everything again tomorrow.”



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