Arsenal: Why Tobin Heath’s Wolfsburg cameo shows she’s still an asset

Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath has not had it all her own way since joining Arsenal, but the US star proved against Wolfsburg that she is still a valuable addition to this Gunners side. 

The 33-year-old came on in the 76th minute at the Emirates, as Jonas Eidevall’s team chased an equaliser in their Champions League quarter-final first-leg. 

And it was Heath who came up with the goods in the 89th minute –– delivering a sublime ball into the box for Lotte Wubben-Moy to slot home from close range. 

Heath, who is considered one of the USA’s greatest ever players, signed for Arsenal at the start of this season on a free transfer, having previously had a stint in the WSL with Man United. 

Yet, despite her world-renowned reputation, the winger has made just 14 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions. 

This doesn’t necessarily tell the full story, however. Heath’s impact off the bench was not the first time she has made a decisive impression and it may not be the last either.

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World-class reputation

The signing of Heath came as a shock to football fans, especially given her prior exit from United earlier in the summer. 

It was Anita Asante who accidentally slipped the news live on Sky Sports, leaving journalists scrambling for more details on Arsenal’s latest marquee capture. 

The arrival of the US star was even more of a surprise, given the plethora of options Eidevall already had at his disposal. Indeed, Vivianne Miedema, Beth Mead, Nikita Parris, Mana Iwabuchi and Caitlin Foord are all on the books with the Gunners and all would slot into the majority of sides in the world. 

But, of course, Arsenal could not turn down the opportunity to sign such a big name. With 181 appearances for the USA, two World Cup winners medals and two Olympic golds, Heath would not only be a valuable addition, she’d get fans watching as well. 

The super-sub effect 

The majority of Heath’s appearances have come off the bench this season, but nonetheless, her sporadic cameos have seen her develop a reputation as a super-sub. 

Against Man City, in a pivotal WSL clash, Heath scored in the 92nd minute to rescue a point for Arsenal. 

And against Wolfsburg last night, there was no other player fans would’ve wanted standing over that free-kick. 

In total, Heath has five goal contributions since joining the club, but almost all of them have been important in some capacity. 

More playing-time? 

All this begs the question: does Heath deserve more playing time? Based on last night’s performance, the answer is yes, but there remain members of Arsenal’s forward contingent that are undroppable. 

The supreme Miedema is arguably the best striker in the world and simply has to play, while Mead is having the best season of her career to date. 

The arrival of Stina Blackstenius in January has also thrown another name into the equation, and it’s clear that Eidveall is a strong admirer of the Swedish international. 

Yet, with a crucial North London to come on Sunday and the return leg against Wolfsburg to come less than a week later, Eidevall may well have to utilise the majority of his squad. 

And if Heath does get her chance in either of these games and proves to be a match-winner, then Arsenal’s decision to sign her in the first place will be further justified.

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