This was a well balanced match as Arsenal played to a draw against Juventus. Even-handed throughout the season, the Gunners have had to fight back from a goal down to maintain their unbeaten European record this season. The influential Lineth Beerensteyn put the hosts ahead in the 53rd minute before Vivianne Miedema hit back, scoring to secure her side a valuable point.
As soon as these two sides came together in October, this encounter was given extra weight. Affectionately dubbed the “Joe Montemurro derby” by fans, this was the first time the former Arsenal manager faced his old team and their new manager, Jonas Eidevall. After spending almost four years in charge of north London, the Australian left for a new challenge in 2021, having previously led the Gunners to their first WSL title in seven years.
Football, as always, goes on, and Montemurro and Eidevall build with their new clubs. Arsenal have impressed in this Champions League campaign but arrive in Turin having suffered their first defeat of the season and injury concerns mounting. Beth Mead is the latest addition to the list as she suffered a significant ACL injury against Manchester United this weekend. Her absence put Miedema in the starting lineup in her now-common role in the pocket behind Stina Blackstenius.
Juventus, meanwhile, went into this game two points behind their opponents in Group C and knowing that a win would greatly increase their chances of progressing. Things are not going so well for them this season – they are second in Serie A behind high-flying Roma. The Italian champions were also without midfielder Sara Gunnarsdottir, but received a boost when their captain, Cecilia Salvai, was declared fit.
Arsenal started brightly, enjoying the space provided by the expansive pitch. Jordan Nobbs and Frida Maanum were able to influence the game while Caitlin Foord provided a productive outlet by running and executing from the left. Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, also a former Arsenal player, had to be careful in goal when Blackstenius repeatedly broke through the defensive lines. The Swedish striker should have been more clinical, especially when she was denied by Maanum only to send her shot straight at the keeper.
Juventus offered their own threat with Beerenstein’s pace causing Arsenal problems. The home team ended the half on the front foot and should have gone ahead: just before the break, Arianna Caruso found herself unmarked in the penalty area, but headed the ball wide.
The temperature may have dropped as the teams re-emerged, but Juventus were determined to turn up the heat. They bided their time, staying compact in front of Arsenal’s possession before taking the lead. The electric Beerensteyn gave the backline plenty of warning and finally made them pay when she intercepted Cristiane Girelli’s defensive pass and clinically fired past Manuela Zinsberger. A roar echoed through the stadium as more than 8,000 fans cheered enthusiastically.
Juventus had the wind at their backs, but Eidevallo’s Arsenal cannot be ignored. They have shown a lot of courage this season, and here they fought hard to equalize. Miedema, always up for the big occasion, rose to the top of the box to meet Frida Maanum’s precise corner. Rising above Julia Grosso and shielded by Lotte Wubben-Moy, she glanced a header and equalized.
The equalizer forced Eideval to shuffle his pack with the limited options at his disposal. Jen Beattie was brought in to offer aerial strength with Katie McCabe pushing further upfield. The last quarter, however, was a difficult encounter with minor fouls and substitutions disrupting the flow. Neither goalkeeper was really problematic as the game came to an end and the points were shared.
Arsenal will travel home perhaps the happier of the two. A draw away from home in this competition is no mean feat and they maintain their position at the top of Group C. They host the same opposition at the Emirates in two weeks’ time, a stage they will feel gives them an edge as they look to secure progression to the next stage.