Arsenal

Possible replacements for injured Beth Mead ahead of Arsenal’s crunch European tie with Juventus

Football.London

Beth Mead is set for a prolonged period on the sidelines after it was revealed she will require surgery for a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

This means the Arsenal and England star may miss the majority of the rest of the 2022-23 season, and is a serious doubt for the Lionesses 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad, ahead of the tournament starting in mind-July. With the Gunners chasing trophies both domestically and in Europe it is a huge blow to Jonas Eidevall and the team.

Gooners will be hopeful of seeing Mead back on the pitch before the end of the season but for such a big injury it looks a big ask to see Mead playing a big part in the WSL title race this season. In the short-term she will definitely miss out on Thursday evening’s clash with Juventus in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Here are three players who Jonas Eidevall could turn to over the next few months while Mead recovers from her injury setback.

Mana Iwabuchi

Japan international and World Cup winner Mana Iwabuchi hasn’t spent much time in the spotlight since moving to Arsenal from Aston Villa in the summer of 2021. Although she started impressively with three goals in the Champions League – including a stunning solo goal against PSV – this season has seen her spend a lot of time on the bench.

But this is a player with proven versatility. Although often deployed as a number 10 by her national team, Iwabuchi is more than capable of playing wide on the left as part of the front three.

Eidevall wouldn’t have to change his system if Iwabuchi was to replace Mead, in fact the player affectionately known as ‘Maradona’ is able to use her close control to cut inside from the left in a manner reminiscent of the England star. There is no doubt Mead’s injury is a huge blow to the title chasing Gunners, however it could inadvertently kickstart Iwabuchi’s season.

Michelle Agyemang

Perhaps unlikely due to her age, but 16-year-old Michelle Agyemang may be needed in the first-team sooner than originally planned after Mead’s injury. Agyemang’s potential is well-known around the club and she has appeared on the bench on a regular basis for the Gunners in recent weeks, making her WSL debut in the 4-0 win over Leicester.

Michelle Agyemang has been included in all but one of Arsenal's WSL matchday squads.

(Image: Photo by Alex Burstow/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Having been at the academy since the age of six, this is a player rated very highly by the Arsenal management and although it would be a big ask to immediately start games Agyemang now has a huge chance of getting further opportunities due to Mead’s absence.

Eidevall does have other options, helped by Vivianne Miedema’s return against Manchester United, but Agyemang was called upon again when Mead was forced off in injury time. The chance to burst onto the scene could be there for Arsenal’s latest wonderkid.

Lina Hurtig

This is one who won’t be available to replace Mead for the trip to Turin. Lina Hurtig has recently been on the growing Arsenal injury list herself, after she was forced off in the win at Leicester before the international break. But once Hurtig is fully fit, Mead’s time on the shelf could give her a huge opportunity to nail down a spot in the front three.

The Swede scored twice in the Champions League matchday two 3-1 victory over Zurich at the Emirates, demonstrating her value to Eidevall’s front three. However, regular starts in the WSL weren’t always forthcoming…

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