Saturday, May 25, 2024

‘It’s been such a long journey’ Arseblog Exclusive with Beth Mead

On Thursday evening Beth Mead started a competitive fixture for the first time in 11 and a half months. Speaking shortly after the Gunners’ 3-1 win over Bristol City, Arseblog News asks Mead, wrapped in a huge bench jacket, how it felt to fulfil the latest landmark in her recovery from an ACL injury.

‘Very nice!’ She smiles breezily. ‘It was really nice to prepare for a game, start a game get that fitness under my belt. A lot of the games I have come into recently have been quite cagey and it’s been very hard to get what we call a second wind.

‘It was great to come in today, get a bit of fatigue and still try to make the right decisions on the pitch and keep that quality in my play. It was what I needed to build up and hopefully continue coming back from the ACL.’

Mead played just over an hour and helped herself to an assist and Mead admits her gradual re-integration into the team has been an adjustment for her. ‘Emotionally and physically it has been tough, it has been a long time out and I have had all the emotion of coming back.’

Mead has been used to being a regular starter ever since she joined the club in early 2017 and she has had to adapt to a new role as she gradually ramps up her recovery. ‘It’s been about knowing what I can get out of the games, that I can come on and what I can give and bring a little bit of quality. When you come on you have to try to re-energise the girls.

‘You can do all the training and straight line running in the world off the pitch where nobody sees it but when you come on in matches it’s a very, very different type of fitness. I think I have coped so far, not needed oxygen at any point! I am heading in the right direction and I hope that continues.’

In the early stages of the Bristol game, there is a notable speed in Arsenal’s play with Mead back on the right wing, a pop as passes are delivered more quickly and with more intent than we have seen in recent weeks. Mead says this is something the team has spoken about a lot in recent weeks and something she demands from herself and her teammates on the pitch.

‘Against low blocks and back fives you have to manipulate the ball well, you’ve got to shout a lot to players to use one or two touch and not take too many touches and not get into battles with people.

‘The goal that Frida scored was exactly that, in to out, around the corner and she made the right decision and I needed to get the weight of pass right for Frida to hit it first time. We could have done that more in the game and we might have been more successful if we’re being critical.

‘When we did it we caused problems, it is something we have worked on but executing that all the time is easier said than done.’ The Bristol City game is a contrast to her big comeback just over three weeks ago against Aston Villa at the Emirates.

Mead entered that match on 85 minutes with Arsenal trailing by a goal. Her introduction from the bench re-energised the crowd and Arsenal went on to win 2-1 with two stoppage time goals, the second of which Mead teed up for Alessia Russo.

‘Cagey game, lots of bodies behind the ball, 1-0 down,’ Beth recalls. ‘I didn’t think I would come on the pitch at that point. It was nice that Jonas thought I could come on and make a difference in that game.’

Mead says her role as super sub in recent weeks has taught her some new skills which she applied in that Villa match. ‘The good thing about being on the bench sometimes is that you’ve got a better view of what’s happening in the game and I think we’d been forcing shots against a lot of bodies at that time. ‘

‘It helped with the assist I got, I drew three players in and Alessia was free and she scores the goal. In that sense, I am trying to put positive on any situation, if I am on the bench I can influence the game in a different way. It wasn’t an easy game, it was an emotional one and I think I avoided eye contact with anyone on the bench when I came on!’

Mead’s arrival caused a ripple effect with the crowd that has continued in recent weeks, with her every jog up and down the touch line greeted with uproarious applause and chanting. Mead says the reception from the Villa game will stay with her.

‘The reception was incredible and it was nice for the confidence to come back in a game like that.’ Of course, Mead has not handled her rehab alone. Her teammate and partner Vivianne Miedema ruptured her ACL a few weeks after Mead last winter.

Miedema also comes on against Bristol City, her second Arsenal appearance since returning from injury and her first one at home. Miedema’s arrival is also met with a rapturous response from the crowd.

‘It’s been such a long journey for both of us to get back and we have, unfortunately, had to do this journey together,’ Mead reflects. ‘But we’ve both had such a great reception from the fans. We love this club, we care about this club and it’s really nice to get that back from the fans in the games.’

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Horse breath

Great to have her back. Viv also starting to come back is good news. COYG.

Kennington Gunner

Yes! So good to see her chalk off this next step of her recovery. ❤️‍🩹

Going to the Chelsea game on 10 December and really hope she will be fit enough to start then. 💪

Opolly

Really interesting insights from the bench vs starting.

RamsdaleMyHero

What’s the pronoun we should use? #Confused

Fun Gunner

I so agree with what you said about the speed and energy sagging a bit when Beth Mead went off last night. That was another reason why it was so nice to see us rev it up a bit at the end and score the goal we deserved.
She is contributing consistently and she’s still nowhere near full Beth Mead. We took her quality for granted until she was injured. Now that she is back, I’m astonished we did so well without her. And Viv, for that matter.

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