How brilliant is Arsenal and Netherlands forward Vivianne Miedema?
Monday, December 19, 2022
We salute the prolific Arsenal and Netherlands striker.
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She's been topping scoring charts since her teens and before her injury in December 2022 had shown little sign of slowing down: when Vivianne Miedema isn't getting goals herself, the Arsenal and Netherlands forward is usually setting them up for someone else.
We salute a 2017 European champion who has celebrated (if usually in quite a low-key way) more than 300 senior career goals while still only in her mid-20s.
Vivianne Miedema: What they say
"She's unique in women's football. She's one of a kind, an absolute killer. You see it in men's football – players who are so cool in front of the goal – but I don't think anybody else in women's football has that to her extent."
Jill Roord, Netherlands and former Arsenal team-mate
"The things that Viv does with the ball and how easy she makes everything look so easy is on another level and it's incredible to watch and to work with. The way she controls the ball and sees solutions on the pitch, she is definitely the best player that I have ever worked with."
Jonas Eidevall, Arsenal manager
"She's brilliant. I think her technical ability is probably one of the best in the league. I think she showcases that better [as playmaker] than [as central striker]. Personally having played against her, you don't see much of her in the game on the back line because she drops in and will kind of be lower down the pitch feeding balls into forwards. Everyone can see she's a great technician on the ball and in the box she's a pain to defend."
Millie Bright, Chelsea and England defender
Vivianne Miedema stats and honours
• Having previously been playing boys' football, at 14 Miedema signed professional terms with Heerenveen, making her debut aged 15 on 2 September 2011. She got ten Eredivisie goals that season, joint second in the league overall, despite her club finishing bottom.
• From 2012/13 Heerenveen played in the new cross-border BeNe League, and Miedema was top scorer in its first two seasons, with 27 goals then 39 (in a 26-round campaign). Still only 17, she was a target for many top European clubs and opted to join Bayern München.
• In Miedema's first Bayern season they ended up unbeaten and won their first German title since 1976, though Miedema missed three months with an ankle injury.
• Miedema got 14 goals in each of the next two Bundesliga seasons, helping Bayern to retain the title in 2015/16.
• She was also joint top scorer of the 2016/17 UEFA Women's Champions League with eight goals as Bayern made the quarter-finals, getting in the Squad of the Season. With her contract now expired, Miedema joined Arsenal.
• Fresh from the Netherlands' UEFA Women's EURO 2017 success, Miedema had mixed fortunes in her first Arsenal season but did get the only goal of the FA Women's Super League Cup final against Manchester City.
• In 2018/19, however, Miedema hit top form: starting with a hat-trick against Liverpool, she racked up 22 WSL goals (seven more than the previous record) as Arsenal stormed to the league title. She was named England's Players' Player of the Year.
• Miedema did not slow down in the eventually truncated 2019/20 campaign with 16 goals in 14 league games, most notably an 11-1 defeat of Bristol City where she scored six and got four assists (Arsenal's 11th came after she had been substituted).
• In the first two knockout rounds of the UEFA Women's Champions League, Miedema got ten goals in four games, meaning she again topped the scoring charts even though Arsenal lost in a delayed one-off quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain.
• Miedema kept making history in 2020/21, becoming the first player to 50 career WSL goals (overtaking Nikita Parris's old record of 49 in the process). Was journalists' English player of the year in 2020.
• So far in 2021/22, Miedema has surpassed 100 Arsenal goals (reaching that milestone in 110 matches) and got to 25 in the UEFA Women's Champions League in just her 21st appearance. She won the vote for 2021 BBC Women's Footballer of the Year.
• Miedema has also shown her versatility, shining in a playmaking role she says she prefers after central striker Stina Blackstenius's January 2022 arrival at Arsenal: in March, Miedema became the first player to 100 WSL goal contributions, with 70 of her own and 30 assists, coming in 83 games.
• Her winner away to Ajax took Arsenal into the 2022/23 UEFA Women's Champions League group stage, where she scored crucial goals away to and at home against Juventus. However, an ACL injury against Lyon later in the group stage prematurely ended her season.
• Miedema's competitive Netherlands debut came in a UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship qualifier on 26 April 2012 against Denmark, and naturally the 15-year-old scored. The following season she got 18 goals in a three-game qualifying round mini-tournament against Montenegro, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, setting a record for a whole season that has since only been equalled.
• Miedema only played three WU17 EURO games in 2012/13 as by the spring she had been fast-tracked to the U19 side, and on 26 September 2013, at the age of 17, she made her senior Netherlands debut against Albania; a month later she managed a 16-minute hat-trick in a FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier versus Portugal, the first of Miedema's three trebles in their group campaign.
• Miedema made a return to youth level for the 2014 Women's U19 EURO finals in Norway and was key to the Netherlands winning their first competitive female football title at any level, particularly with her semi-final hat-trick against the Republic of Ireland and only goal of the 1-0 final defeat of Spain. Miedema was finals top scorer on six, four clear of anyone else including future club-mate Blackstenius.
• That autumn, Miedema was central to the Netherlands reaching their first Women's World Cup finals, with big contributions in the play-off semi against Scotland then all three in the 3-2 aggregate defeat of Italy that took the Dutch to Canada. Her tally of 16 overall equalled the UEFA qualifying record for the Women's World Cup.
• Illness and injury meant Miedema had a disappointing 2015 World Cup finals campaign; Women's EURO 2017 was the opposite for both her and her team. Miedema got four goals, all in the knockouts, including two in the 4-2 final defeat of Denmark that made hosts the Netherlands champions for the first time.
• Miedema helped the Netherlands to another World Cup finals in 2019 and in France became her country's all-time top scorer when she reached 60 in the 3-1 group win against Cameroon.
• A starring performance against Italy in the last eight was among the highlights as the Netherlands proved their EURO win was no home advantage fluke by reaching the World Cup final against the United States. Miedema was named in the official list of ten players that 'Dared to shine', as the tournament slogan had it.
• Miedema got nine qualifying goals as the Netherlands booked a title defence at Women's EURO 2022 but incredibly eclipsed that at the 2021 Olympics. In their four games on the way to a quarter-final penalty shoot-out loss to the US, a 2-2 draw in which Miedema struck twice on her 100th Netherlands appearance, she got a total of ten.
• That was an Olympic women's tournament record and equalled Michelle Akers' Women's World Cup finals record of ten at the inaugural 1991 finals. Her eight group stage goals were an outright record for any major tournament group stage, men or women (World Cup/EURO/Olympics).
• Her Women's EURO was disrupted by COVID-19 as the Netherlands' title defence ended in the last eight but her eight qualifying goals helped them to the 2023 World Cup. Miedema's career tally of 31 World Cup qualifying goals is only two off Julie Fleeting's record.
• However, the ACL injury in December 2022 seems to have ruled her out of the World Cup finals.
What you might not know
• She started paying a price for soccer the hard way early, telling Arsenal's official website of her first footballing memory: "It was the sort of thing I’d practiced hundreds of times with my brother on the side of the pitch while we were watching my dad play – but this time it was different. As I closed in on goal, the ball was between me and the goalkeeper and then bang: he kicked out two of my teeth!"
• Like her father and grandfather did, her younger brother Lars (a fellow Feyenoord fan) also plays, most recently for Genemuiden; it was he that insisted Miedema celebrate her Netherlands record-breaking goal against Cameroon in more exuberant fashion, which she did with a forward roll.
What she says
"Playing football is all I ever wanted to do. I didn't really do anything else back then – to be honest, I couldn't really do anything else back then ..."
On winning the 2014 Women's U19 EURO as top scorer ... "The six goals are nice but it's all about the winners' medal. I'm glad I came [a senior international, she did not play in qualifying] because it was a dream to play at a European final tournament."
On winning Women's EURO 2017: "We played six amazing games and [in the final] we showed that even if we go behind, we can still change the game. The moment we scored for 3-2, I just thought: 'It's not going to go wrong again.'"
On becoming Netherlands top scorer in 2019 ... "It's something special, something I'm only going to live once, a special experience for me. It's a World Cup – you score a goal, so I think you can cheer and be a little crazy about it. I made a deal with my brother that, when I broke it, I’d do a forward roll on the pitch."
On her normally low-key goal celebrations ..."I don't really have one particular reason for not celebrating, I would just say that I celebrate more if someone else scores. Maybe it's about showing respect to the opposition. Maybe it's because I'm an easy-going, normal person. I just don't really believe in doing weird stuff after a goal."
On breaking records ...“I don't really set targets for myself in that way. I just wait till people come up to me, they're like 'Well this is what you need to break' and I'll be like, 'OK, let's get it out of the way and move on.'"
What she might achieve yet
• Makes no secret of her hunger to win more than the two major trophies she currently has helped Arsenal lift, and is yet to feature in the UEFA Women's Champions League beyond the quarter-finals.
• Has several individual honours in England, including the worldwide BBC prize in 2021, but is yet to claim either the Ballon d'Or or either FIFA or UEFA awards. More success with the Netherlands could be key.
• Only nine nations have players that have reached 100 women's international goals but Miedema is well on course to add the Netherlands to that list, with Birgit Prinz's European record of 128 a more than realistic target.