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Vivianne Miedema Has Set The Women’s Super League On Fire

Vivianne Miedema of Arsenal runs with the ball during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal and Bristol City
Kate McShane/Getty Images

Sometimes, a soccer player hits a level so remarkably high that you start to question whether they are even playing the same sport as everyone else. For Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema, that “sometimes” has lasted three seasons now, and the 24-year-old Dutch striker’s sport-melting dominance shows no signs of abating. No matter the competition—whether in the FA Women’s Super League, the Women’s Champions League, or the 2019 World Cup—Miedema’s ability to find the back of the net has already made her one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the women’s game.

What Miedema has done in a little over three seasons with Arsenal has been nothing short of astonishing. In 50 league games, she has scored 52 goals (a league record), with 21 assists to boot. Those numbers show that she is as comfortable banging in goals as she is serving as Arsenal’s playmaking fulcrum, which makes her an ideal weapon in the modern game. Her control in tight space is nearly unmatched, particularly for a player of her height; the goal at 4:03 in this goals compilation has her putting three Liverpool players on a string while she found just an inch of space to score.

During her best season in 2018–19, Miedema had a direct hand in 32 of Arsenal’s 70 goals (by far the highest number in the league) as the Gunners won their first WSL title and 15th top division trophy overall. And so far this season Miedema is doing even better. Through just five games, the Dutch striker has already scored 10 times, including a hat trick on Sunday in a 6–1 North London Derby blowout. Her first strike, in the seventh minute, gave her the all-time record for most WSL goals, and she poured in two others in the rout, including a near-post, tight-angle finish—off a deflection, it’s worth noting—after a beautiful, defense-bending run for her second (1:56 in the video below):

How do you stop someone who not only knows exactly where to be at all times but also has the skill to convert from anywhere inside the penalty box with both feet? (Though naturally right-footed, she developed her left foot to copy her idol, Dutch legend Robin van Persie.) You usually can’t, though Paris Saint-Germain figured out the only template for silencing her in their Champions League quarterfinal last season: you suffocate her service and hope that, over 90 minutes, she doesn’t pull out a moment or two of magic. Given the stakes, that PSG game was probably Miedema’s worst performance in an Arsenal shirt, though it’s hard to fault her when she barely saw the ball amid constant double teams. Even that failure points to her impact on Arsenal’s opponents: they have to focus solely on stopping her, and hope that her teammates, no slouches in their own right, don’t beat them.

That’s easier said than done, because Miedema doesn’t need much help to kill opposing defenses. She has shown for years now that even the most meager of opportunities from the tightest of angles and most congested of penalty boxes are equivalent to certain death when Miedema is the one lining up the shots. Tottenham was just the latest victim as she adds to her tally of domestic goals, and her new record might be out of reach for anyone else by the time she’s done.