Saturday, July 13, 2024

Frida World: Maanum a deserved Arsenal player of the season

“Frida is a real success story this year. She started not playing so much, I remember when she came on in the away game at Ajax the energy and the determination she played with,” Jonas Eidevall explained to Arseblog News three weeks ago. “We had a conversation after this and I told her, ‘if you keep going like this, you are going to play, it will be impossible not to play you.’

“When I see this in a player I want to play that player all the time. She proved that right, after that. From Lyon away onwards. She put a lot of hard work in, it is great to see a young player come in and grow as an athlete and as a person.” More interesting was Eidevall’s assertion that he did not necessarily envisage that she would make the number 10 role in the team her own.

“It also shows why sometimes it is so hard to just look at statistics when you look at young players. I think when you see Frida in Sweden, you saw she had a great shot but she didn’t score many goals. When you see it from the statistical perspective.

“That is something we could have held against her when we looked at her in the number 10 position because you ask whether that would contribute enough points for the team. That is where you need to look at the potential when you work with young players, you have to see the qualities and now you see she is contributing a lot of points playing that position. That is very interesting when you work with young players.”

Eidevall’s assertion that he felt he could not leave Maanum out of the team for much longer after her cameo away at Ajax bore fruit. In October, he made the surprise call to start the Norwegian ahead of Vivianne Miedema in the number 10 role. Arseblog News asked Eidevall about the decision post-match. “Frida is one of our strongest runners and she carries the ball very well. We gave her a role that requires an extreme amount of running because she basically had to defend two players.

“She was absolutely brilliant tonight, on and off the ball. It was an excellent performance from her and she should be really proud.” Maanum scored and starred in a 5-1 victory that night and, four days later, Frida kept her place ahead of Miedema away at Liverpool and, sure enough, she scored again. “This was another really good performance from Frida, you could see she was tired at the end but she works incredibly hard and it’s nice to see she gets the rewards from a long period of working really hard in training and preparing herself and being ready when the opportunity arises.”

When Jonas Eidevall was interviewed for the Arsenal job in the summer of 2021, he was asked, if he could add any three midfielders from world football to the squad, who would they be? Frida Maanum was one of his three. He wasn’t aware that the club had already signed her. Maanum is an Eidevall player, strong, intense, good control in tight situations and she attacks in a very direct manner- especially in the left half-space.

After scoring a trademark Maanum goal in the recent 1-0 victory over Leicester, Eidevall explained, “She is so good in front of their defending line, the power, her touch, the way she engages defenders. If you don’t step to her she shoots. Then it becomes a really hard task for the defending team, if you give her space she shoots. If you step up to her, it creates space and frees another player. That is exactly the type of decision we want to force from the opponent.”

Eidevall wants all of his attackers to be direct and to stress opponents, both in the press, but also in the way they provoke the opposition. Foord does it through her dribbling, Mead through her dribbling and intense pressing, Blackstenius in her ability to run the channels and Maanum’s right-footed shot has become a potent weapon for the Gunners this season.

It’s not just the shots that fly into the net either, as Eidevall points out, it’s her willingness to shoot that unnerves defences. Look back at how Stina Blackstenius’ equaliser in the Conti Cup Final comes about. First of all, Frida carries the ball a long distance- as she did prior to her long-range goals against Manchester United and Spurs- only Caitlin Foord managed more progressive carries per 90 this season. But her propensity to shoot causes panic in the Chelsea defence that Blackstenius benefits from.

The 23-year-old is the team’s top scorer in the WSL this season. 14 goals (from an XG of 8.6) and seven assists across the WSL and the Champions League makes her Arsenal’s richest source of direct goal contributions. Frida took on 3.23 shots per 90 this season (only Blackstenius averaged more in the Arsenal squad) and when you have 92 shots over the course of a campaign with an average distance of 19.2 yards you can see how capable she is from distance. Her ability to drive and shoot became the defining feature of an attack that would have otherwise suffered irreconcilably with the loss of Mead and Miedema.

Her creative game was none too shabby either, only Mead and Miedema bettered her 2.25 key passes per 90 and only Caitlin Foord (8) bettered her seven assists for the season. When Mead was injured, Maanum became Arsenal’s right-footed setpiece delivery option, which was an especially good weapon from wide positions near the touchline. Maanum’s deliveries generate plenty of distance, as well as whip and bend.

Her right foot is both paint brush and jackhammer and, in short, her blend of qualities make her very difficult to defend against. Her power is such that if she cannot go around you, she will go through you. But Frida’s success this season has not just been technical and tactical but mental. Having not played very much during the second half of last season, she was suddenly asked to be the fulcrum of an attack deprived of the talents of Mead and Miedema and she delivered on that.

She was asked to replace Miedema away at Lyon and put in a player of the match display. When Arsenal were struggling to find a way past Leicester in April, in the crunch part of the season, she managed to bend a second half winner into the top corner. Two weeks earlier, when the Gunners were trailing at home to Manchester City, she found the equaliser, just as she had against Bayern Munich a few days earlier. Maanum became a clutch player.

She was also required to play a deeper role in the final weeks of the season. Having already helped to mend an attack decimated by injuries to star players, Kim Little, Lia Walti and Leah Williamson were cut down and she had to help fix the base of the midfield. Maanum is a worthy player of the season and her contract extension is great news for the club because her ceiling is in the clouds.

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Peter Story Teller

FLM deserves the accolades for her efforts this season. Now she just needs to learn that sometimes it can be a good idea to allow others to take free kicks or pass to a better placed team mate rather than attempting to strike another worldie and she will be the complete player.
Glad she has signed up for more at Arsenal though as her best years are still ahead!


Given how much we struggled to score at times this season with our natural goal scorers injured I didn’t mind her focusing on shooting. As mentioned in the article she scored most of the important result defining goals (equalizers or winning goals) in key games this season after Miedema was injured.

Fun Gunner

Agreed on all points.

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