In each edition of our matchday programme, we catch up with a member of our women's first-team to find out more about them and their current state of mind.
Ahead of our Champions League game against Lyon on Thursday (purchase tickets), Frida Maanum discusses her versatility, how she's matured as a player and her plans for the upcoming Christmas break.
It's a good vibe here at London Colney. Now that we have Leah and Rafa coming back and other players are also stepping up their recovery, we’re happier. We have such a fantastic squad but obviously it's so hard when we lose big players to big injuries. But in those moments of adversity, other teammates have really stepped up and taken more responsibility. I think we've handled this injury period as best as we possibly could have.
I’ve had to be flexible with my positioning as well this season, performing a few different roles across the midfield. I love when I get to play as the number 10 and it was particularly enjoyable when I could travel a little higher up the pitch against Lyon. I think you can see in my game now that I create more scoring opportunities and provide more assists for my teammates, which I really like.
When I switch to the eight or six role instead, I can make those deeper runs and be more flexible in my positioning on the pitch. It means that I can drop deep or stay high, while still running in behind occasionally so I've scored different types of goals this season. I always want to be that type of player.
These three positions in midfield definitely have some similarities but you have to work on different partnerships across the pitch. As a 10, I link up more with Stina as she leads the line, especially in the press. When I play a bit deeper, I focus more on my partnerships with our centre-backs. It's never the same game twice but we adapt the world to each other as well - both in attack and defence.
I play a different role for Arsenal than I do for my Norwegian national side, but I think the style here suits me better, as we try to play through opponents and generally have more possession. It’s so important for international selection that you’re getting regular game time at your club. When I was playing fewer minutes for Arsenal at the end of last season, I naturally thought about it because I always want to be in the national team. My coaches at Norway were very honest with me the whole time: they told me that I was in a good place and that I was at a good club. It was just about time.
Still, it’s a difficult adjustment - especially as a young player, when you play every game for half a season and then suddenly, you're on the bench. I just tried to do my best in training and work hard to develop every day. We have such a fantastic squad that I learn so much from and I worked with our coaches to adapt my game to better fit the team.
It’s hard for anyone during those periods on the bench but then it's so nice to come out of the other side and play again. Scoring more this season is just an added bonus. The most important thing is always that the team wins and if I can help that, obviously I'll take a goal!
With so many international breaks during a season, switching mindset to your national team and back to your club is probably easier than people think. It’s often a quick turnaround when everyone has to revert to the same style of play in two days, but getting back on the same wavelength is easy at Arsenal. We all know the way we want to play.
Even over the short space of time that I’ve been at Arsenal, I’ve grown so much on and off the pitch. When you're young, you just go! In the press, I would just run to the next player and follow the ball. My teammates and our coaches here have taught me a lot about that, especially in defence. It’s allowed me to mature as a player because I've developed my decision-making so much on the pitch. As a person, simply living by myself has made me grow up fast too!
As comfortable as I am with English, the language barrier always has a part to play. If I want to say something in training, I’ll always wonder: how do I say that in English in a good way? And you have to say it quickly as well, otherwise you miss your chance! Things that I could express easily back with my national team are a little harder here, but I’m patient. I think that will come with time - once I learn even more about the language and grow into more of a speaking role.
Looking ahead to this game against Lyon at the Emirates, we have to build on our performance in the away fixture. The 5-1 win against them in the first leg was very good from our side, and although this is a completely different game, we shouldn’t disregard that amazing result. We can still do even better, even against the reigning champions.
Not every team qualifies for the Champions League so it’s always a special competition to play in. We get to play brand new opponents so it’s hugely different to facing Everton or Chelsea that we know quite well at this point. I find it fascinating to meet new players and new teams that force you to adapt. The Champions League makes you learn a lot, quickly.
After our final group game against Zurich, I’m finally going home to Norway. Back to the snow land for Christmas! Us Norwegians celebrate on December 24 but my family’s traditions probably still sound pretty familiar: we always watch Christmas movies on the day, go for a walk together and then in the evening, it’s time for a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal.
Seeing my family again for the holidays will be so nice because I spend so much of the year travelling. We all need that time for ourselves to properly switch off, and I’m looking forward to coming back to Arsenal with new energy in the new year!
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