Spotlight On Beth Mead

After suffering an injury just before the international break, the immediate future looked a little rocky for Arsenal and England forward Beth Mead. However, having just been voted as one of three forwards in BBC Sports “WSL Team of the Season”, it is clear she very much remains at the forefront of the minds of many.

Beth Mead is a player that demands your attention. Whether she starts as part of the eleven, or is substituted on later, she certainly makes an impact. With an innate hankering to get things moving and a knack of cleverly regenerating momentum in a lull, Mead has established herself as a considerable threat to any opposition.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Mead’s career to date is rather esteemed. During her time at Sunderland, Mead was prolific on the scoresheet. Her quick feet and, already, smart finish saw her hit the back of the net 78 times in 77 appearances. So, having to relocate to the wing upon arrival at Arsenal was perhaps not the ideal. But, in a truly spirited fashion, it was not long before she found her feet. With unwavering perseverance, Mead focussed on modifying her game, and in doing so, has rather uniquely made the wing her own.

Mead thunders up and down the pitch, spurring little pieces of, what becomes, team creativity as she goes. A quick tempo and a ballsy attack are all a part of Mead’s game, and it is her gallant disposition that sees her push forward and spark typically threatening play. Mead has progressed into somewhat of an assist queen. The relationships built with her teammates, paired with her gift to whip in a devilish cross, allow her to bring others in to play, often leading to favourable results. Yet whilst she is operative in pushing forward, she is just as attentive in covering her own half. Mead stands her ground one on one and has no qualms with cleaning up defensively when needed to.

Photo: Kunjan Malde

Although she may no longer find herself directly in front of goal, the number nine role is still rife within her play. For both club and country, her ability to swiftly cut into the box and drive in a shot has kept her, quite comfortably, on the scoresheet. But she does not need to be in the box to sink one past the keeper. Mead’s cross-shot, or “crot”, as it is more popularly known, is somewhat a speciality of hers. A tight angle, or a pressing marker, is seemingly not a problem.

But this ability of hers arguably both helps and hinders. Unfortunately, Mead is a player that tends to be brought down a lot, and she has certainly endured more than her fair share of clattering tackles. Whilst this is something that perhaps needs addressing, it is in fact to her credit. Simply, the best way to dispel a threat is to eliminate it. But with a hardy resolve and an unparalleled resilience, she usually dusts herself off and is back on her feet before long. The show must go on for the ever-undeterred Mead.

On and off the pitch, Mead is a firm fan favourite. If her playful skills were not enough to draw you in, her hospitality once the whistle has blown will grab you hook, line and sinker. Despite the outcome, Mead’s affable nature always prevails. She greets her supporters with warmth and is always generous with her time. More often than not, Mead is one of the last players to leave the field long after the match is over.

So, on both sides of the fence, Mead is a fitting role model. For young children and aspiring footballers, she shows the determination and adaptability needed to succeed. And for long term supporters or even those who are only just discovering the game, Mead wholly embodies the very characteristics that make women’s football so special. Master of the wing, queen of the crot; Arsenal and Lionesses fans can surely agree.

The need for Mead is as strong as it’s ever been.