T Arsenal striker Beth Mead ponders bruising defeat 4-1 against Barcelona during hisChampions League first group match. “The girls have been humiliated in a good way,” she says. "It was a tough game.
" At the moment they are the best team in Europe, if not the world. Sometimes they were unplayable. We looked at ourselves in the mirror and worked hard on what we need to do better. In the long run, this game will help us. We have many more matches to play in the Champions League. "
To In many ways, the best time to face the reigning European champions is in the group stage, when the outcome may not affect progress to the quarter-finals.
" They 'We've been playing together for a long time, they're at a different stage than us, "Mead says. “We are in a transition. We will do our best to reach a good level where everyone struggles to play againstwe. Barca put a lot of pressure on us, didn't give us room to breathe, didn't let us go out to play and it's so hard physically and mentally.
Arsenal, Mead continues, tried to play that way in their data Everton defeat 3-0 in the next match. "This game is already helping us ", says the 26-year-old. "We can get a lot out of it.
The way Barcelona fired Arsenal was familiar. Gunners have swept teams with similar effects in the Women's Super League this season and Mead has been at the heart of it.
In the opener, a 3-2 win over champions Chelsea , Mead scoredux times and was poignantly photographed with outstretched arms in front of a crowd at the Emirates Stadium for the Premier League match there. Having been ruled out of the GB team's Olympic squad, it was cathartic.
"I took it hard," Mead says , whose form made her the Barclays WSL Player of the Month for September. "But I was fortunate enough to have time to get over that disappointment and then reintegrate it into my football, so starting the season like that was a dream come true. I wanted to come back and prove why I 've got it. should have been at those Olympics and what a way to start in the Emirates in front of an incredible crowd, scoring two goals against Chelsea. "
With Arsenal having added the winner of American World Cup Tobin Heath, English striker Mead Nikita Parris and Japanese maestro Mana Iwabuchi to a strike force led by the Nominated for Ballon d 'Or Vivianne Miedema the pressure was on Mead to perform.
"Which team, which players, wow " said Mead. "It's depth and depth. strength that we needed for a long time. Jonas [Eidevall, the manager] could currently play two different front lines. You can't have a bad day in training. You have to train really well and the competition really works good for me, it makes me a better player, it makes me more motivated. Sometimes you don't realize it, but you can get pretty complacent. And right now you can't do that. "
The former Whitby-born Sunderland forward thinks she is in the best shape of her career: "I feel good, I feel good. form, mentally I feel good but I have a lot moreto give. It's a long season and now I have to do what I do regularly. This is what the best players in the world do and this is what I aspire to. "
In a weird way, missing the Olympics helped. "You always got a glimpse of the positives and one bright spot for me was that I was able to give up football, refresh my mind and body and have a good preseason " said Mead, who named his dog Rona after the coronavirus after catching her during the lockdown, calls her Rona Corona and describes her as his "saving grace" to overcome her Olympic heartbreak. worked really hard in the pre-season to improve my fitness. "
Having also been kicked out of English camps before the Olympics, Mead is back in the Sarina Wiegman's fold. " Sarina brought new energy, which we probably needed as a team member.team from England. We've always been a hard-working team - that's a given - but they told us to slow down and enjoy the football a bit more and I think in the long run that is going to help us a lot. "
The next goal is to get past this camp, where England face Northern Ireland and Latvia, and the next games of 'Arsenal to form the squad that will face Austria at Stadium of Light in Sunderland in November.
I would love to be there, "said her with a big smile. "I haven't been to Sunderland for a long time and actually never had the chance to play at the Stadium of Light… I would like us to play more Northern games.
The goal of the season? “Score more goals,” she said simply. “I just want to keep contributing goals and assists and collecting balls. I want to be the bestmy version of myself… It 's an exciting season, we have the quality and caliber of players to win things. But saying it and doing it are two different things.