Beth Mead injury: how long will the Arsenal and England star be out for? ACL injury explained

On Tuesday, Arsenal confirmed fans’ worst fears.

It was tough enough for the Gunners to swallow Alessia Russo’s injury-time winner, which gave rivals Manchester United a huge leg-up in the race for the Women’s Super League title on Saturday.

For their star attacker Beth Mead to then go down clutching her right knee moments later simply added insult to injury in a season already disrupted by the losses of preferred centre-back pairing Leah Williamson and Rafaelle to the medical room.

Against a backdrop of concern over the prevalence of ACL injuries in women’s football, fans waited anxiously for confirmation of Mead’s issue - and it’s bad news for the Ballon D’Or runner-up, Arsenal supporters and Lionesses fans.

What happened to Beth Mead?

The 27-year-old was chasing a ball which was running out of play in the dying moments of a WSL fixture at the Emirates, as Manchester United defender Hannah Blundell tried to stop her from reaching it.

Mead fell over and her right leg looked to drag along the floor - she immediately clutched it in pain, causing great concern for the fans and medical team like.

What is the injury?

Beth Mead has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, which means that a tissue which connects the bones in her leg and helps control the movement in her knee has been damaged.

Female athletes have been found to be as much as five times more likely to suffer ACL injuries than male athletes.

How long will recovery take?

Recovering from an ACL rupture usually takes between eight and nine months, though in some cases athletes are out of action for as little as six months - it depends on the individual, and the grade of the tear.

On this timeline, Arsenal fans might expect to see Mead back in training around July or August - though the attacker’s return to best form is unlikely to happen until the 2024/2025 season.

Will Beth Mead play at the 2023 World Cup?

Mead’s ACL rupture is a huge, huge blow for Sarina Wiegman and the Lionesses who look as prepared as they ever have been to make a bid to become world champions at the World Cup next summer.

The Whitby-born attacker starred in the England side that won the 2022 European Championship - scoring six goals and making five assists on her way to winning the Player of the Tournament award.

In the form of her life, Mead will be devastated by this long-term injury as, while a place on the plane to Australia and New Zealand is not entirely ruled out by this development, it does put her chances of competing very much in doubt.

As things second, England are second favourites to win the competition behind the USA. Other key contenders for the competition look likely to include Germany and Spain - the former haven’t won the World Cup since 2007, when they managed to hold onto their world champions status by following up their 2003 victory in the USA with another in China.