16 Nov

Arsenal’s Beth Mead stakes England claim with World Cup on horizon

first_imgThe Observer The FA Women’s Super League (@FAWSL)🚀 WHAT A GOAL for @ArsenalWFC!!!😲 Even @emsmitch3 can’t quite believe it!A fine way to round off an amazing season! pic.twitter.com/fw0VIclj2cMay 11, 2019 Beth Mead believes she is playing the best football of her career and the Arsenal forward wants a starting spot in the England World Cup squad following Arsenal’s 1-0 defeat of Manchester City on the final day of the Women’s Super League season.The Gunners moved seven points clear of City at the top of the table, having already clinched the title at Brighton last week, after a wonder strike from Emma Mitchell.“I don’t want to be a squad player anymore,” said Mead. “I want to be pushing for a position to start. I’m even more hungry for it now I’m going.”Mead was full of praise for the Lionesses squad unveiling via social media when the captain, Steph Houghton, was announced by Prince William and herself and teammate Leah Williamson by the Arsenal legends Kelly Smith and Ian Wright respectively: “The king and queen of Arsenal,” she said, grinning.Phil Neville, the England manager, said in midweek that he would not be watching the final WSL games of the season. “Every time a players goes down you think: ‘She’s out of the World Cup.’ So I’ll just turn the telly off and hope everyone gets through. I don’t want anyone injured,” he said recently. Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Women’s football Women’s Super League Reuse this content But while Neville’s eyes were elsewhere, a sell-out Borehamwood crowd were well and truly focused on Arsenal’s meeting with the unbeaten City.City’s manager, Nick Cushing, no doubt eased Neville’s worries by sticking the dynamic forward duo of Nikita Parris (who could well be joining Lyon after confirming via Instagram on Saturday that she is leaving City) and Georgia Stanway on the bench. The goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Abbie McManus also took seats in the dugout, meaning just four of eight players in England’s 23-strong squad – Houghton, Demi Stokes, Jill Scott and Keira Walsh – began the game. Mead and the 22-year-old centre-back Williamson started for Arsenal.A cagey first half, with just bragging rights at stake, had Arsenal pressing high and Lauren Hemp isolated up front for City. Perhaps Neville should have tuned in though, with the presence of Arsenal’s Dutch forward Vivianne Miedema, who has scored more than 30 goals in all competitions, providing another chance to see Houghton tested against the best.Minutes in Houghton was on hand to block a powerful shot from Miedema from the edge of the area. If anything, and possibly worryingly for Neville, it was Scotland’s Kim Little who seemed to trouble the City defence more. Sitting on the shoulder of Walsh, Little constantly snapped at the heels of City’s back line.Scotland are first up for England in Group D and, though decidedly the underdogs, the four players on show here – Little, Lisa Evans, Mitchell and Caroline Weir – are an indication of just how strong Scotland’s starting XI will be in the summer.“We’ve got lots of players competing in the WSL against the English girls week in, week out,” said Mitchell. “It gives us confidence going into that game. This is our first World Cup, we have nothing to lose. All the hype will be on England and that can end up helping everyone else.”At half-time Stokes, run ragged by her international teammate Mead, was substituted for Megan Campbell.It took until the 89th minute for Arsenal to clinch victory. Mead’s corner was cleared but the ball fell to Mitchell on the edge off the box who lashed an incredible left-foot strike past Ellie Roebuck, à la Vincent Kompany.Mitchell laughed at the comparison. “A few of the girls said that, his goal was a bit more important though because we’ve already wrapped the league up,” she said wearing a league-winners T-shirt.“I said to one of the girls when the ball went out for a corner that I was going to go for it but I didn’t expect it to happen.” featurescenter_img Share via Email Share on Messenger Share on Facebook Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest Arsenal Women Manchester City Women Topicslast_img read more