Amarachi Orie takes a closer look at the standout performance of towering Mewis in the WSL showdown between the Manchester rivals.
It was unclear who the underdogs were coming into the Women’s Super League clash between Manchester United and Manchester City, and it was still unresolved at the end. While the game ended in a 2-2 deadlock, City’s Sam Mewis stood out from the rest, and not just because of her height.
In the first half, which City dominated and scored twice (through Chloe Kelly and Laura Coombs), Mewis was the team’s key driving force. While United were able to keep Vivianne Miedema in check in their win over Arsenal last weekend, they had much more to deal with this time around thanks to the US midfielder’s leadership.
Mewis dominated midfield and gave momentum to City’s attack. Occupying the centre of midfield, she smoothly and creatively brought Georgia Stanway into the game on the left and fed the ball to Kelly while bringing Lucy Bronze into a forward position on the right. She was constantly at the centre of the blue attacks.
While Gareth Taylor’s team are not the most clinical, much like the men’s team, who struggle to get the second goal more than they should, Mewis made sure to consistently provide the team with chances and keep their eyes towards goal. If she was not providing the ball and leading the press, she was taking the shots herself. Mewis largely moved around unmarked – the dominance she asserted was left unquestioned by Casey Stoney’s players.
That was until the second half. The shine was taken away from the World Cup winner when Tobin Heath brought United back into the game 10 minutes after half-time, capitalising on an erroneous pass from Bronze. In Heath’s 70 minutes on the pitch she created just as many chances as Mewis (3) but it was substitute Kirsty Hanson who prodded home in the 74th minute to earn United a point.
Mewis was not left to run freely any longer. When she made away with the ball, she had Hayley Ladd running close beside her. After Mewis blocked a volley in the box from Millie Turner following a dangerous corner, the United defender made sure to return the favour later in the game.
Mewis’ 85th minute close-range shot was strongly blocked by Turner, who had positioned herself in front of the midfielder. United were no longer giving her the room to get comfortable and this kept City at bay.
Even though neither side could find a winner, Mewis remained crucial in maintaining a level playing field between the two sides. She used her height and strength to block a United free-kick a minute before full-time. Then, after another dangerous set-piece was dealt with, Mewis changed the direction of play.
The first minute of extra time saw the American reinvigorating City’s momentum. She took them from being on the defensive to back on the front foot, allowing Kelly to take a shot at goal. Mewis is a playmaker who is intelligent on the ball, in her movement and with her passes. The scoreline changed throughout the game but she was consistent.
Mewis played for the full 90 minutes, unlike her American opponents Christen Press and Heath. Her presence on the field can never go unnoticed and neither can her status as a top signing. Undoubtedly, she has settled in the best out of the new US recruits.
Follow Amarachi on Twitter @iamarachii