Why is Filippa Angeldahl not playing at Manchester City?

Mia Eriksson casts her eye over a player that Manchester City bought from Swedish side BK Häcken but still has not managed to convince Gareth Taylor to be given a chance as a starter

Flippa Angeldahl is a Swedish central midfielder who plays for Manchester City in the Women’s Super League. Angeldahl joined City ahead of the 2021/22 season and came from a couple of solid seasons in the Damallsvenskan when she also had established herself as a starter in the Swedish national team. At the Olympics in Tokyo in the summer of 2021, where she started all six matches for Sweden who were the 3rd ranked best national team in the world, according to FIFA, won the silver medal. Since then, Angeldahl has cemented herself into Peter Gerhardsson’s national team. 

Since joining Manchester City, Angeldahl has not been given much playing time under the Sky Blue boss Gareth Taylor. But looking at the players that left City after the last season – Caroline Weir, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh – plenty of Swedish experts, including me, thought that this was Angeldahl’s chance to break into Taylor’s starting eleven. With half the 2022/23 season played, it looks pretty clear that the City boss has no plan to integrate the Swede into his 4-3-3 lineup. Should Angeldahl stay at Manchester City? What kind of player is she, and what can she provide to another club if she chooses to move on when her contract is due next summer? Using TransferLab, we can look closely at her qualities and determine what she could offer to a possible new team or even what qualities she might lack compared to her teammates in Manchester City, leaving Taylor unconvinced that the Swedish box-to-box midfielder can bring something to his side. 

Profile Box-to-Box midfielder

In the Swedish national team, Angeldahl often plays in the number 8 role alongside a defensive midfielder (a number 6) who links the backline and the attack together with ball-holding qualities. This leaves Angeldahl free to move up the pitch to take part in the attacking game, and we often see her score from the central space, just outside the penalty area or inside, with shots from range or after taking a run into the box to pick up cut-backs from Sweden’s wingers in the attack.

Angeldahl’s shot map for Sweden in World Cup qualification

Her qualities are many and varied, as we can see after looking at the Swede’s metrics in the ‘Central midfielder Box-to-Box’ profile in TransferLab. The profile is measured on her performances from the last 24 months, which means her time in BK Häcken plays a part in the result. We have done this because her limited game time at City makes it hard to assess her work since that transfer.

Angeldahl offers a lot with her progressive passing game, both long and short passes, where she can assist her teammates moving the ball into the box and with key passes (shot assists). She scores very well in most metrics according to Transferlab, but we can see that she ranks lower in the defensive metrics.

So what differentiates her from the players that left City, first and foremost Weir and Stanway? Also, what differentiates her from Yui Hasegawa, Deyna Castellanos, and Laura Coombs, who all have taken place in Taylor’s starting XI this season? 

Castellanos is a natural forward, but in Taylor’s lineup, she has the role of the attacking number 8 and a number 10. Hasegawa, who came from West Ham to City ahead of the current season, went from being deployed as an attacking number 8 to a central defensive midfielder, which is how Taylor seems to have replaced the departed Keira Walsh. Compared to all the players mentioned above, Angeldahl still ranks high in her progressive passing game, so maybe this is an area we can dig deeper into and look at what kind of player Angeldahl really is and what profile she fits best. 

Angeldahl’s best attributes

Fundamentally, the system in City without Walsh, Weir and Stanway is the same in the 4-3-3 Taylor uses to ensure that Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly, as wingers, play a significant part in their attack. However, the answer for the Swede not getting playing time in City could be found in the way Taylor want’s to balance his midfield in this 4-3-3 formation. Angeldahl’s numbers are very impressive using the Defensive midfielder – Deep playmaker profile. 

This shows that the Swede is good at dictating and orchestrating from the deep, playing between the lines and using her very good passing skills to set up the attacking players. From the players that left City, looking at Stanway and Walsh, Angeldahl is probably like Walsh in this regard. But, as mentioned earlier, Taylor has not gone for a like-for-like, using Hasegawa in this role.

Using Transfer Lab’s tool to compare these players, former and current, we see that she is more similar to Walsh and Hasegawa with one metric to really set them apart; interceptions. We know that City don’t play with two number 6 in their midfield of three so that leaves us with the question of why Taylor has chosen Coombs and Castellanos ahead of Angeldahl. 

Neither of these two are as good in progressive passing as Angeldahl, although they both rank higher in the defensive metrics if we switch the profile to the Box-To-Box midfielder profile and compare the three midfielders with each other. 


It’s easy to conclude with half the season played that as long as Manchester City doesn’t play another system it’s evident that Angeldahl will have a hard time to make it into a starting lineup if something unexpected doesn’t happen. Therefore, one could argue that City made a mistake to recruit the Swede. She left the Damallsvenskan and BK Häcken as one of the league’s best players and is still a very important player for the Swedish national team, irrespective of her playing time at City. But, to maintain her importance for Sweden, it is surely only a matter of time before her playing time becomes relevant, even for an elite player like Angeldahl. And Taylor could be missing out on using Angeldahl as an exciting midfield option, especially one who could feed Hemp and Kelly the ball with different types of passes out on the wings. 

Similar players

In a game from the beginning of the WSL season, Angeldahl got subbed on as one of the attackers in a rare 4-4-2 lineup that Taylor deployed, which might suggest that he is not entirely sure how to use the Swedish national team player properly to get the best out of her. Using Transfer Lab’s similar playing tool, we can see that Laura Coombs is the only City player that shows up. What other clubs in the world could use a player like Angeldahl, who Transfer Lab says is similar to Amandine Henry, Patri Guijarro and Kim Little, if she doesn’t stay in Manchester City? Perhaps this is something to revisit in a future piece, but for now, Angeldahl will likely be hoping it does not come to that.

Header image copyright IMAGO/NatalieMincher/SPP

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