Vivianne Miedema produced an incredible individual performance as Arsenal routed Bristol City 11-1. Arsenal’s win was a record victory in the FA WSL, and Miedema scored six goals and assisted four more; only Emma Mitchell’s goal, Arsenal’s 11th, missed a Miedema contribution.
When Arsenal last met Bristol City, ten days ago in the Continental Cup, Bristol had some success in sacrificing the wide areas, as Arsenal prefer to attack through the centre of the park. In response, Joe Montemurro named a back three of Leah Williamson, Jen Beattie, and Viktoria Schnaderbeck, with a midfield diamond of Lia Wälti at the base, Jill Roord at the tip, and Jordan Nobbs and Danïelle van de Donk in the middle. Beth Mead and Lisa Evans played as wingers—not wing backs, but genuine wingers—with Williamson and Schnaderbeck drifting wide and Wälti becoming a centre back as needed. The system was designed to overrun Bristol in the wide areas, which it did.
Arsenal were immediately on the front foot, and Beth Mead went close twice before the first goal; twisting and turning, and having one shot deflected into the side netting, and then volleying just wide. But Bristol would not hold out for long; from the left, Miedema crossed, and unmarked Lisa Evans headed home. Arsenal’s second was a mirror of their first: Miedema crossed, Williamson jumped the highest, and Arsenal were two goals to the good.
The Miedema show continued: Lia Wälti found Miedema, who took advantage of slack Bristol defending to score her first. At that point, Bristol City had some decent looks on the break: Ebony Salmon shot over, and also had a good run denied by Schnaderbeck as she was shaping to shoot. But then, Arsenal regained control, and scored again, with Miedema tapping home Beth Mead’s low cross from a yard out. Miedema would wrap up her first hat trick before half time. Miedema met Lisa Evans’ cross, with her shot bouncing off the defender, and then back onto Miedema and trickling over the line, beyond a despairing Sophie Baggaley.
Bristol City started the second half by hitting the bar, but Arsenal took over again. Miedema got her fourth, after getting slipped in by Van de Donk. Miedema’s cross found Jordan Nobbs to make it 7-0, and she was then set up by Evans, with a through ball, before Miedema returned the favour with a beautifully chipped pass to make it 9. The two combined one last time, with Evans low cross getting tapped away by Miedema to make it double figures.
At this point, Miedema was replaced by Emma Mitchell, who added a goal of her. Bristol City got one back after Manuela Zinsberger gave away a penalty, after Daniels closed down her pass, won the ball, and was pushed over by the Arsenal keeper. Zinberger saved Daniels’ penalty, but Daniels bundled in the rebound. It could’ve been worse for Bristol: Jill Roord hit the bar, and missed a couple of chances, and Arsenal’s sharp passing in the second half was a credit to their professionalism. As Miedema said to Arseblog News’ Tim Stillman, “at half-time we did say among ourselves that this game is one where we can work on our goal difference and we did that in the second half. It would have been easy to play a good first half and then drop off in the second, but we kept the level up this week.”
vivianne miedema’s post match interview after arsenal’s 11-1 win over bristol city pic.twitter.com/b911Mhiv4o— blind cow (@katiemccbe) December 1, 2019
With Chelsea’s game postponed and Manchester City winning 1-0 against Liverpool, Arsenal went top of the league, going ahead of City on goal difference. While there are some legitimate questions to ask of the competitive balance of the WSL after a game like this, nothing should be taken away from Miedema, who was an utter joy to watch, showcasing the creative and finishing qualities that make her such a special player and striker. After the game, Miedema said she enjoyed her assists more than her goals, which is entirely unsurprising—she is the ultimate team player.
As for the competitive question, it is a fair one. But it’s also fair to say that despite full professionalization, some teams invest fewer resources than others. As Kieran Thievam writes in The Athletic, “Until clubs at the wrong end of the table are able to throw more resources at their team, this might not be the only time we are talking about a special day for Arsenal’s superstar striker.” If clubs don’t want to get humiliated—and make no mistake, Bristol City have been humiliated in their last three games—then they should invest more money.