This was a well-balanced encounter as Arsenal were held to a draw by Juventus. Closely matched throughout, the Gunners had to battle 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, heading home to ensure her side earned a valuable point.
As soon as these two sides were drawn together back in October, there was an extra weight added to this fixture. Fondly dubbed the “Joe Montemurro derby” by fans, this was the first time the former Arsenal manager was coming up against his old side and their new manager, Jonas Eidevall. Having spent almost four years at the helm in north London, the Australian departed for a new challenge in 2021, having previously led the Gunners to a first WSL title in seven years.
Football, as always, moves on, and Montemurro and Eidevall are building with their new clubs. Arsenal have impressed in this Champions League campaign, but they arrived in Turin after falling to their first loss of the season and with their injury worries mounting. Beth Mead was the latest to be added to the list having suffered a significant ACL injury against Manchester United at the weekend. Her absence brought Miedema into the starting lineup in her now customary role in the pocket behind Stina Blackstenius.
Juventus, meanwhile, went into this fixture two points behind their opponents in Group C and knowing that victory would massively bolster their chances of progression. Things are not going entirely their way this season – they are second in Serie A behind high-flying Roma. The Italian champions were also without the midfield stalwart Sara Gunnarsdottir but were bolstered when their captain, Cecilia Salvai, was declared fit.
Arsenal started brightly, enjoying the space the expansive pitch provided. Jordan Nobbs and Frida Maanum were able to influence play while Caitlin Foord’s running and delivery from the left provided a productive outlet. Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, also formerly of Arsenal, had to be alert in goal when Blackstenius broke through the defensive lines on multiple occasions. The Sweden forward should have been more clinical, in particular when she was set away by Maanum only to direct her shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Juventus offered their own threat with the pace of Beerensteyn causing Arsenal problems. The hosts finished the half on the front foot and should have gone in ahead: just before the break Arianna Caruso found herself unmarked in the box but sent her header wide.
The temperature may have dropped as the teams re-emerged, but Juventus were determined to turn up the heat. They bided their time, remaining compact in the face of Arsenal possession before taking the lead. The electric Beerensteyn had provided the backline with enough warnings and finally made them pay when she broke on to Cristiana Girelli’s defence-splitting pass and fired clinically past Manuela Zinsberger. A roar reverberated around the stadium, as more than 8,000 supporters cheered with delight.
Juventus had the wind in their sails, but Eidevall’s Arsenal can never be discounted. They have shown plenty of grit this season, and here they battled hard to draw level. Miedema, always one for the big occasions, rose highest in the box to meet a pinpoint Frida Maanum corner. Towering over Julia Grosso and protected by Lotte Wubben-Moy, she glanced a header home to level.
The equaliser caused Eidevall to shuffle his pack with the limited options he had available. Jen Beattie was brought in to offer aerial solidity with Katie McCabe pushing further upfield. The final quarter, however, was a stuttering encounter with niggling fouls and substitutions disrupting the flow. Neither goalkeeper was really troubled as the game drew to a close and the points were shared.
Arsenal will travel homeperhaps the happier of the two. A draw away from home in this competition is no mean feat and they maintain their cushion at the top of Group C. They will host the same opposition at the Emirates in a fortnight time, a stage that they will feel gives them the advantage as they look to secure progression to the next stage.