Arsenal Watch: Beth Mead

Arsenal’s 24-year-old forward Beth Mead made her second successive appearance for England today as the Lionesses faced Argentina in their second fixture of the Women’s World Cup. It was a good game all around for England as they won the game 1-0 and qualified for the knockout stages for the fifth time.

Overall, I thought Beth Mead had a great performance for the Lioness and should’ve been in contention for the Player of the Match. Her output was pretty good overall, particularly from set-pieces, and she was crucial in producing the assist for Jodie Taylor’s goal.

In addition, her off the ball movement down the left flank was important for England’s attack, especially when she cut inside since it’d open up the chance for someone to move into her space unmarked. Elsewhere, linked up well with full-back Alex Greenwood at times too.

Going into the game, manager Phil Neville stuck with the 4-1-4-1 formation that he previously used for the Lionesses first game versus Scotland in which they won 2-1. As previously mentioned, Mead was joined by Greenwood on the left once again with Nikita Parris and Lucy Bronze fielded on the opposing flank.

While England mostly played down the right in the game versus Scotland, they were more varied down the flanks in their performance tonight which allowed Beth Mead to get into the game more. The Lionesses did well to maintain a majority of the possession, ending the night with 76% of the game, and overloaded the flanks to stretch the game and to get the most out of Mead and Parris, respectively.

In the first half, Mead delivered a good performance but she did make a few mistakes, especially at the start when she was on the ball. In the opening twenty minutes, there were quite a few occasions where she tried cutting inside but was unable to create a chance. However, she did very well just after twenty-five minutes where she found Greenwood on her driving run into the box but she was brought down for a penalty.

With the exception of her assist, Mead’s delivery from set-pieces was very good tonight. With Greenwood on left corners, Mead once again took them from the right and produced quite a few good chances. Her best of the half came just after 40 minutes where her delivery was met by a volley from Jill Scott, but she unable to do better with the chance.

Minutes later, Mead had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring for the Lioness, but goalkeeper Vanina Correa did a fantastic job to save it with her right foot.

In the second half, Mead was able to build on her decent performance so far and unsurprisingly played a crucial role for England to grab their goal. Just minutes into the second half, Mead did well freeing up space on the left by dragging a defender inside and allowing someone to overlap during Parris’ run-in with the ball on the right. However, the Lionesses were unlucky with the chance.

After sixty minutes, Mead was excellent to create the chance for Taylor to open the scoring. Neville’s decision to stretch the game was effective here since the 24-year-old was left completely unmarked during her run on England’s counter-attack that allowed her to receive the ball from Fran Kirby in space and produce the swerving cross that was met by Taylor.

Shortly after the goal, Mead delivered another great corner that Scott was close to scoring from. Following that corner, Mead didn’t really feature that much for the remainder of the game and she was brought off after eighty minutes for Georgia Stanway.

While it was not the best performance by England’s standards tonight, Beth Mead was easily one of the better players on the pitch. She’s been one of the Lionesses’ bright sparks in this tournament so far and with England’s place in the knockout stages already confirmed, the game versus Japan could be a good opportunity for her to get a deserved rest.

My verdict – 7.5/10

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