The countdown to Sam Kerr’s debut for Chelsea Women has begun, and the new signing (who formally joined the Chelsea family on Friday December 27 after returning from Christmas with her own family Down Under) is expected to play a part for the Blues against Reading on Sunday lunchtime. It’s not expected to be a
The countdown to Sam Kerr’s debut for Chelsea Women has begun, and the new signing (who formally joined the Chelsea family on Friday December 27 after returning from Christmas with her own family Down Under) is expected to play a part for the Blues against Reading on Sunday lunchtime.
It’s not expected to be a walkover! Reading have lost just one of their last four Barclays FA Women’s Super League away games this season, and if they manage to avoid defeat against Chelsea, it’ll be their longest unbeaten run on the road since September 2018.
The Blues have been back in full training this week, concentrating on integrating Kerr into a team that is there or thereabouts at the top of the league (though still angry at only drawing against lowly Liverpool in the last league game of 2019), and focusing on defending set-pieces.
Reading have scored more goals from headers (four), corners (eight) and set-pieces (11) than any other Barclays FA Women’s Super League side this season.
So what can the Blues fans who will fill Kingsmeadow for the 12.30pm kick-off match expect to see from the new arrival?
Manager Emma Hayes may start with Beth England up front as usual, and bring on Kerr as a sub. Kerr, despite her phenomenal reputation, has never played in Europe before, and will need a certain amount of time to adjust to the pace.
The good sign from Chelsea’s perspective is that the Blues are unbeaten in seven WSL games against Reading, and Reading have yet to keep a clean sheet against the Blues in the league, conceding 18 goals over seven matches.
Since her NWSL debut for Sky Blue FC in June 2016, Kerr scored at least 11 more goals than any other player in the competition, finishing as the top goalscorer in each of the last three campaigns… 2017, 2018 and 2019.
She is a world-class player in a team of classy players, so expectation levels are high – not just at Kingsmeadow, but in the wider women’s game, where the arrival of such a star can only help lift the overall standard of the league.
Former Chelsea star Eni Aluko reckons that the closest player in the men’s game to compare Kerr to is Jamie Vardy. “She is especially brilliant on transitions; when a midfielder gets the ball and has the ability to pass between, or over, defenders… that is when she comes alive,” said Aluko.
“When there is room for her to run in behind a defence, she is the best in the world. She can finish with either foot, and is great in the air.”
That’s quite a feat for a player who is just under 5ft 6in!