Beth Mead has torn her ACL, as Arsenal confirmed in a statement on the club website. The Euro 2022 Golden Ball winner suffered the injury in the defeat against Manchester United. Mead will visit a surgeon in the coming days to determine the severity of the injury and to project a recovery timeline.
The injury could force Mead to miss next summer’s World Cup, which starts July 20th in Australia. Eight months is right on the cusp for an ACL recovery. It all depends on how much or little damage there is to her knee. Some players are able to return in six months, the usual timeline is eight or nine months, and for others, it can take as long as a year.
Mead’s absence creates a bit of a selection problem for Jonas Eidevall in the short term. He doesn’t have many options in terms of wide attackers. The most likely change is to move Noelle Maritz to left back and push Katie McCabe forward. He could also play Jordan Nobbs wide, drop Frida Maanum deeper into the midfield, and play Vivianne Miedema as an attacking midfielder, or he might use Mana Iwabuchi as a direct replacement.
Whatever Eidevall does, Mead’s replacement will have massive shoes to fill. Mead leads Arsenal with seven goal involvements (3g, 4a), three better than Stina Blackstenius and Maanum (4g each) and Caitlin Foord (1g, 3a). That’s a lot of offensive production to replace.
Longer term, Arsenal may recall Gio Queiroz from her loan spell at Everton to fill the gap in the lineup. The young Brazilian has appeared in 6 of 7 WSL matches but has played a paltry 121 minutes in total. The club might also add players in the January window.
Arsenal have been banged up this season. Both first-choice centerbacks, Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza are out with foot injuries. Jonas Eidevall hopes to have both back sometime before Christmas, but they’re both still weeks away. Kim Little is “progressing” in her recovery from a knee injury, but will still be out for a while. And several players are carrying minor knocks that might keep them out here and there.