Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen English superstar Beth Mead and Dutch sensation Vivianne Miedema return to football in the WSL, for the first time in 11 months.
The last two and a half seasons we have seen both Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema set the WSL alight at Arsenal with their goals and assists and their incredible partnership on and off the pitch. However, in November and December 2022, both players ruptured their ACL, meaning no football for a long time (11 months to be exact).
But this month we have seen both players return to competitive action and although it’s early on, having these two players back will surely please Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall as his attacking line just got a whole lot stronger for the season ahead.
Beth Mead’s return…
Mead returned in the Gunners' win over Aston Villa on the 15th of October at the Emirates Stadium, where she originally got injured. She came on as a substitute in the 88th minute of the game, she didn’t get on the scoresheet but she unsurprisingly grabbed an assist for the winning goal as she passed the ball into Alessia Russo who fired her side to victory.
After the win against Villa Jonas Eidevall told the BBC: “It’s nice to see her (Mead) on the pitch and seeing her able to perform straight away.”
Prior to her ACL injury, Mead was arguably in the best form of her career, she had scored 14 goals and grabbed 12 assists in 29 WSL appearances for Arsenal (21/22 and 22/23 seasons). The 28-year-old also holds the all-time WSL assist record with 42 (so far).
Now after just two substitute appearances this season, she already has one assist to her name and has had a huge impact on her team. Once fully fit her goals and assists could be vital in boosting Arsenal up the table after their poor start to the season.
Vivianne Miedema’s return…
Miedema returned in Arsenal’s 2-1 victory away at Bristol City on the 22nd of October at Ashton Gate. She was only on the pitch for around 2 minutes, understandably she didn’t score or assist but she did show her incredible talent by playing an incredible ball through for one of her teammates to score but unfortunately nothing came of it.
Miedema ruptured her ACL back in December 2022, in a Champions League clash against Lyon. In her absence, Arsenal still did reasonably well last season and of course, they signed Alessia Russo in the summer. But no striker can compete with the 27-year-old's Arsenal goal-scoring record in the WSL, this speaks for itself, in the last 3 seasons she has scored 36 goals and grabbed 14 assists in 52 games.
She is also the all-time leading goal scorer in WSL history with 78 goals (so far) and has the most goal contributions in WSL history with 112 (at present). Similarly to Mead once Miedema is back at full fitness the Gunners will have their star striker back and her goals and all-round talent as a player could be the difference between them finishing as champions or at least in a Champions League spot or not.
Arsenal’s top scorer last season had 9 goals and is a midfielder
With Mead and Miedema’s absence last season, Arsenal’s top goal scorer was Frida Maanum who is a central midfielder, she scored 9 goals in 22 games. The Gunners' highest-scoring striker/attacking player was Stina Blackstenius with 8. This proves just how much Eidevall’s side missed Beth and Viv’s attacking threat.
Overall it is hard to say how much of an impact Mead and Miedema will have on Arsenal’s season going forward, however, if both players can hit the heights they have in the past (before their injuries) they could both be vital to Jonas Eidevall for the months ahead and as they’ve both returned early on in the season their form can only get better. As long as they both aren’t pushed too hard to cause any further/recurring injuries.
Will either one of them be up there for the top scorer and top assists award come May next year?