Michelle Agyemang: The future of English football

Michelle Agyemang of England during the UEFA Women's European Under-17 Championship 2022/23 Group B match vs Sweden
Michelle Agyemang of England during the UEFA Women's European Under-17 Championship 2022/23 Group B match vs Sweden (Photo by Marko Mumm/Getty Images)

The most exciting thing about football is the collective excitement over a young player. Someone with the world before her, and the talent to reach the top. It connects fans alike and makes for an emotional bond, to see one of their own make it to their full potential.

It’s a fact of the game that is as long as academy products and transcends across gender. And right now, that feeling is well and truly on Michelle Agyemang.

The background

Michelle Agyemang was a name every Arsenal fan knew after last season. A stellar campaign with the U21s was completed with a goal for the first team and a Champions League debut. It displayed Agyemang’s prospects for the future as sky high.

Outside of Arsenal, she also had a successful year with the England Youth groups too, including some beautiful goals in the U17s European Championship, and early promotion to the U19s. In this, she showed the type of No.9 she is becoming, and what we can expect in the future.

The use of space to isolate herself

Agyemang’s use of space is key to her game. She likes to make gaps between herself and the centre-backs to use to her advantage in and around the box. Drifting along the front and isolating herself, the 18-year-old makes the most of this to find herself in space in the box, or one-on-one with the keeper. Her clinical right foot slots chances away with ease and precision.

It was something seen in the U17s Euros against Sweden. Off the ball, Agyemang dragged herself into the box, and away from the herd. She made space to be completely unmarked, before slotting the opening goal in with ease on the left foot. A simple movement that made chances for herself easy and effective.

It’s a move seen even on the ball, in the second half of the same game. Agyemang received a through ball from midfield, directly into the box where she broke from the Swedish defender before chipping the keeper. Her ability to make space for herself in these moments mean her finishing is calm and cool. She has the space and time to think before she takes the shot, resulting in a high goal conversion rate.

Agyemang made a situation for herself, time and time again, where she is not under pressure by being tightly marked. By making space, she dictates play and converting shots for fun.

Space as a manipulation tool

In many places, Agyemang has the space to manipulate the defender too. Her ability to execute powerful strikes and goals comes from her forward thinking of space and time. It’s almost Thierry Henry-esque, and clearly something learnt coming through Arsenal. She wants to outdo defenders and gain the upper hand across the pitch.

In the U17s match against Poland, the striker made sure the space between herself and the defender was sizeable so that she, as the attacker, was in charge. In the box leading up to the goal, England were outnumbered in the box seven to three, including the goalkeeper. Agyemang gained control of the ball in some space on the edge of the box. From there, she drifted right to gain even more space, dummies the sliding Polish opponent before striking the ball into the back of the net.

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Whilst the space in this example is less than before, Agyemang is constantly wanting to make more space and time for herself. She gains these aspects to make sure she has the best ability to convert chances. Nothing is rushed or underthought. There is strategy and forward thinking in every single movement and action she takes.

Space to pounce

With space on her mind, Agyemang can also capture others mistakes to her benefit. In the Poland game, a spilled ball from the goalkeeper fell directly to the striker in space. An open goal and the space she had made it an easy finish. She chased after the loose ball, and slotted home with nothing more than a pass.

It was a simple goal, but the use of space made it possible. Agyemang was completely unmarked and had the pace to pounce before anyone else. It’s something that would not be possible, though, if she hadn’t already been in space. Unmarked, she can control the loose ball to her gain without an approaching defender on her side.

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Agyemang constantly uses and manipulates space for her own benefit. Her ability to be clinical and deadly comes from the space she makes for herself, along with a lethal right foot. It’s a mindset that is not only years above her age, but a skill for the future as she gains experience and skills to go far.  

Michelle Agyemang has already made the name for herself within the game. The 18-year-old has become a powerhouse for goals for both club and country. A powerful striker with the strength to go far, it is just the right amount of praise to call her the future of English football.

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