The Majesty Of Miedema
By Sumaiya Vawda
Imagine meeting a lofted corner with a volley off the inside of your (supposedly) weak foot, and the shot bristles the roof of the net. What if this goal sequence played out against your team's North London rivals? Alone, it is sufficient to etch any player into Arsenal folklore. Add to that a tally of 92 goals in her first 100 appearances for the club, and you have yourself the bonafide superstar that is Vivianne Miedema. Arsenal Women's 20/21 season closed to the beat of a 9-0 FA Cup rout of Crystal Palace. A week earlier, Champions League football was reinstated to the team's schedule for next season with a third-place finish. And yet, there will be regret for an inability to join the title race despite possessing strong talent, not least of all the recipient of two golden boots in three years. Miedema's volley at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium won WSL goal of the season. She racked up more goals than any other from outside the box in the league. In the season where she climbed to the summit of the league's all-time highest goal-scorer charts, her reimagined role and playmaking abilities were nonetheless most impressive. On at least two occasions this season, she was tasked with occupying a withdrawn number 10 space, from which she created room for others, fizzed balls out wide from deep and took shots from the top of the box. She often formed tantalising passing triangles with Jordan Nobbs and Katie McCabe in a left side overload. Thus, ball progression markedly emerged from her repertoire this season. The Arsenal album of the top knot assassin will likely have multiple volumes of inexplicable moments. Against West Ham this season, she quietly received the ball from a throw-in, successfully shielded it, turned and laterally ran across most of the defence to the top of the penalty area before curling her shot into the left corner. Oh, hardly a celebration was necessary for the forward. Netherlands' record goal-scorer is a player to behold for deftness of touch, ease of swivel, pace of gallop and nonchalance of celebration. On occasion, however, it's pleasing to colour in her numbers. She averaged 0,77 xG per 90 for the 20/21 season (per Marc Lamberts' analysis). Over the past three seasons, her sum of goals and assists has totalled 32, 24 and 23, respectively. It's easy to forget that the high-volume shooter is only 24-years-old. A single year remaining on her contract has prompted transfer links with Lyon and Barcelona. A departure would leave a massive hole at Arsenal and be a loss for the WSL as a whole, but murmurings from her agent indicate that she'll be lacing up in red and white once again next season. However, the weary Arsenal fan may spend the summer humming a revitalised Bohemian Rhapsody: 'Miedemaaa! We will not let you go, Miedemaaa! We will not let you go.'