Vivianne Miedema has capped a fine season by scooping the Women’s Footballer of the Year award from the Football Writers’ Association.
The Arsenal and Netherlands forward had another memorable season after netting 16 goals in 14 games in the Women’s Super League, and 10 in the Champions League.
Her stand-out performances included the 11-1 victory against Bristol City in which she scored six and assisted four.
Miedema beat Bethany England of Chelsea by one vote, while other runners up include Chelsea’s Guro Reiten, Olympique Lyonnais’ Lucy Bronze, and Manchester City’s Ellen White.
Although Chelsea won the WSL, which was decided on a points-per-game basis when the season ended prematurely, Miedema provided more goals (16) and assists (10) than any other player this season.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) July 1, 2020
Arsenal Ladies also have a chance to win the Champions League this season, facing Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals on August 22nd.
Miedema is good value for the award, despite reminding the press that she doesn’t “give a shit about individual awards”, and regards them as popularity contests.
For all her humility and meekness, the Dutchwoman is an elite number 9 and an elite number 10 in a single package, whose strength and poise in possession is at the heart of a dominant Arsenal attack.
The data bear her out as both the best finisher and the best creative player in the WSL, in case you needed another reminder that she is the GOAT.
Viv the striker led scoring for the second season on the bounce, with 16 this season, and 22 in 18/19, which of course was finished as expected.
This season, she netted 1.08 per 90, bettered only by Manchester City’s Pauline Bremer, who spent less than half the time on the pitch that Miedema did.
Her XG stands at 0.64, which is bettered by Bremer, White and England, but Miedema scores more goals than all three of them, a clear demonstration of her clinical efficiency, and ability to convert difficult chances.
England and Bremer score fewer goals on higher shots per game records (4.64 and 6.6 respectively), while Miedema manages more goals from fewer shots (3.76 per game).
With a conversion rate of 29%, she is far and away the most efficient scorer in the WSL. The next best is Bremer at 22%, quite a drop-off.
This is partly due to her comparative unwillingness to try from long range, preferring to run in behind the defence to collect a through-pass, or take the ball into the area herself.
The other contenders for the top individual award in the ladies’ season are more traditional high-volume scorers, who are less efficient but take on more shots.
Despite being comfortably the most proficient goal scorer in the league, Miedema prefers making assists for her teammates, a job she also excels at.
This WSL season, she registered 10 assists, with Manchester City’s Janine Beckie in second place with 8.
This shakes out to a goal creation rate of 0.64 per 90 minutes, compared with an XG from her passing of 0.4, meaning that just as she is more efficient in front of goal than you’d expect, the same could be said of her chance creation.
This speaks to the quality of the team as much as her individual brilliance – Daniëlle Van de Donk, Leah Williamson, Beth Mead, Jordan Nobbs and team captain Kim Little are all good converters.
This allows her to flourish in a deeper false 9 or number 10 role, dropping back to allow attacking midfielders, centre forwards and wingers to get beyond her.
#TB Arsenal’s 200th goal under Joe Montemurro (all comps)
— miedemastuff (@miedemastuff) June 30, 2020
Given that she is the most efficient scorer in the WSL, and with only one of her goals scored outside the area, it came as a surprise to me that she completes more open play passes than any other player, at 24.5 per 90, from an attempted 31.4 per 90.
At 78%, this gives her the third-highest pass completion rate among WSL centre-forwards.
She also has the highest rate in the WSL by a comfortable margin of passes per 90 into the penalty area, at 1.72.
This is partly due to her ability to advance the play long distances in attacks and counter attacks, a metric in which she only faces competition from Rinsola Babajide, in the deep-lying Liverpool team.
Although Babajide completes more carries, passes, or dribbles into the final third, Arsenal are a far more attacking side, and spend more time in the final third than Liverpool, who rely on efficient defence and quick counters.
Combining her goals and assists per 90 shows she is responsible for 1.72 goals every 90 minutes, by which metric she is far and away the best attacker in the league.
Pauline Bremer comes a distant second, responsible for 1.43 goals per 90, while Beth England is in third, responsible for 1.08 goals per 90.
Thanks to Statsbomb’s database for all statistics.