Arsenal: How Beth Mead is becoming one of Europe’s elite forwards

Beth Mead

When Arsenal signed a plethora of attacking talent this summer, many expected Beth Mead to struggle for game time. Now, having steered the Gunners to the top of the WSL table, she is irreplaceable.

The women’s football season only kicked off a couple of months ago, but Mead has already delivered more moments of individual brilliance than many of her fellow teammates have combined.

First, there was her double which helped the Gunners defeat Chelsea at the Emirates. A week later, Mead notched a goal and two assists as Arsenal ran riot against Reading. And then yesterday, with an FA Cup final spot at Wembley on the line, the English forward was mesmeric against Brighton as Jonas Eidevall’s side won 3-0.

But how do her stats compare to last year? And does her current form put her in the same bracket as some of the WSL’s elite stars?

On goal scoring and assist statistics alone, it’s clear that Mead is a player reborn so far in this campaign. Last year, Mead scored four league goals and registered eight assists in 21 matches. This season, the 26-year-old has played 17 matches for club and county with 10 goals and 15 assists to her name.

ENTER GIVEAWAY

ENTER GIVEAWAY

This is not to say that Mead was necessarily bad last year. Indeed, eight assists were still enough to put her joint fifth in that category, alongside Sam Kerr and Lauren Hemp. But rather, that this season, she has elevated her game to new heights –– particularly when it comes to scoring goals.

In the WSL this campaign, Mead has six goals and assists combined, placing her in esteemed company with the likes of Ella Toone as well as teammates Vivianne Miedema and Katie McCabe when it comes to the leaders for this statistic. In fact, the only players to have more goals and assists so far in the league are Chelsea duo, Fran Kirby and Kerr.

In many ways, Kirby makes for an interesting point of comparison against Mead. Last season’s WSL Player of the Year, the 28-year-old is often regarded as one of the most complete forward’s in Europe, with the ability to both score and create.

The Chelsea attacker is leading the way domestically again this season, having notched three goals and a whopping five assists. Kirby is also top of expected assists per 90 with 1.05, while Mead is second on 0.57.

Though the Blues star has still eclipsed the Gunners forward in the league, it is Mead who has shone more at the international level. The Arsenal star has five goals for England so far in World Cup qualifying, compared to Kirby’s none.

It is true that Kirby has operated in a deeper role for Sarina Wiegman’s side, but Mead’s 14-minute hat-trick off the bench against Northern Ireland at Wembley epitomised how much she can offer the Lionesses in attack.

Beth Mead

And when compared to other Arsenal forwards, it’s clear that Mead is deservedly keeping some of the game’s most renowned attackers on the bench. The Gunners brought in Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris and Tobin Heath this season but only Miedema has played more minutes than the former Sunderland star.

What this proves is that Mead now deserves to be regarded in the same way as those she is keeping on the bench. Arsenal are flying at the moment and if they are to carry on their outstanding domestic form, then they’ll have to hope Mead can continue this extraordinary purple patch.

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