Arsenal Women have once again been busy in the transfer market during the summer, with the return of Josy Henning, the permanent signing of Louise Quinn and the captures of Scottish winger Lisa Evans and Swedish right-back Jessica Samuelsson. But one name really stands out in their summer business. Euro 2017 winner and new striker Vivianne Miedema- she spoke exclusively to Arseblog News ahead of the new season.
The 21 year-old joins from Bayern Munich. Miedema is a two time Frauen-Bundesliga winner with Bayern and has netted an incredible 45 goals in 57 games for the Netherlands. Arsenal announced Miedema’s arrival prior to this summer’s European Championships, where Vivianne led the line for hosts and eventual winners the Netherlands.
Miedema was second top scorer at the tournament with 4 goals, just behind her new Arsenal teammate Jodie Taylor. She scored the equaliser in the final against Denmark, before sealing a 4-2 victory with the clinching goal in the 88th minute. “I still get ‘chicken skin’ just thinking about it,” she smiles, just minutes after Arsenal’s 3-0 pre-season friendly win over Everton at Meadow Park.
Miedema is renowned for her professionalism and focus, a footballer wise beyond her years. But she admits that the emotion began to surface when she bagged that second goal in the final, “Everything came out in that moment, from the whole tournament, from the whole two years we spent working towards this.
“At that moment, we knew we were going to be European Champions and some of the girls started crying afterwards. It was just amazing.” Vivianne hopes that the tournament will carry a lasting legacy for women’s football in her homeland too. She reflects that hosting and winning Euro 2017 ought to amplify the impact of Holland’s victory.
“Hosting the tournament was a great thing for women’s football in the Netherlands and there were great crowds. The fact that we won it makes that so much better, we are already seeing some changes which is great because we need women’s football at home to get way better. It’s important for the team too to keep our focus and make sure we qualify for the World Cup now.”
Arsenal have three other ‘Dutchies’ who played their part in the Netherlands victory. But the fiercely independent Miedema insists that the presence of Sari van Veenendaal, Danielle van de Donk and Dominique Janssen wasn’t the most important factor in her decision to join Arsenal. “That wasn’t so important to be honest,” she considers.
“I went to Bayern when I was 17 and I was alone there so I knew I would be fine going somewhere without any Dutch players. But it’s really nice to have some Dutch girls here, especially because they’re all super nice. They really like the club and feel happy here and that confirmed my good feeling about Arsenal.”
Miedema had been looking for a new challenge after 3 years at Bayern Munich and Arsenal faced stiff competition for her signature, “I have been in contact with a lot of clubs since December last year,” Vivianne explains, “Arsenal came in in early January I think. I went to visit a couple of clubs and I just got a really good feeling here. The setup is top, top class.”
The prospect of a challenge in a new country convinced her to move to England, but it was Arsenal’s attacking style that really won her over. “I had been playing in the Bundesliga for three years and I wanted to try something new. I didn’t really agree with the style of football we played at Bayern and I want to become a better player. If you look at Arsenal, they play amazing football and that’s what I missed at Bayern.”
Vivianne is a tall, rangy number 9 with peerless link up skills, a fierce turn of pace and the ability to find nooks and crannies of space in the penalty area. She is strong in the air, has two good feet and her finishing is meticulous. She is quite possibly the best centre forward in Europe. At Bayern, she had been used principally as a target striker, holding up long balls and bringing others into play.
Arsenal play a more open style with an interchangeable front 3 and full-backs that provide service from out wide. That said, she will compete for a central berth with England’s Jodie Taylor and young Beth Mead, who scored 77 goals in 78 games for Sunderland before moving to Arsenal in January. Miedema says she can see herself playing alongside the Gunners’ two other well established strikers.
“It would be amazing if Pedro could find a way to play us altogether,” she ponders. “You could see Jodie’s talent at the Euros, scoring amazing goals and playing really well. Beth is a great young talent, only just a little bit older than me. I’d love it if we could all play alongside one another, but we’ll see.”
With the likes of Danielle Carter, Heather O’Reilly and her ex-Bayern teammate Lisa Evans likely to flank her and Jordan Nobbs, Danielle van de Donk and Kim Little behind her, Miedema won’t want for service in an Arsenal shirt. Vivianne’s exploits in Dutch orange have assured her legendary status, but everything this 21-year old touches has a habit of turning into gold.
Follow me on Twitter @Stillberto