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Sam Kerr: How Chelsea's enigmatic forward strikes fear into opposition defences at will

Striker Sam Kerr's knack for scoring important goals in big games is once again powering Chelsea's WSL title charge; Sky Sports takes a look at how she does it, and why her performances are so vital to the Blues' success


The clock had just ticked past 12.53pm last Sunday afternoon in Kingston upon Thames. The fans were expectant, the atmosphere cheery but calm. Enter Chelsea striker Sam Kerr.

Two devastatingly perfect touches of the ball, almost from nothing, and the stadium erupts in excitement. Chelsea had taken the lead against title rivals Manchester United, with Kerr predictably at the heart of the action.

Every top side in Europe has their talisman. Or talis-woman.

They often make the hardest feat in football, scoring goals, look like the most simple task imaginable.

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We take a look back at the goals scored by Sam Kerr so far in the Women's Super League this season as the Australian continues her fine form for Chelsea.

Kerr is a case in point. She barely has a trademark celebration, such is her dislike of the spotlight, but the regularity with which she finds the back of the net inevitably brings attention.

Kerr's arrival at Chelsea has coincided with the most successful period in the club's history - she doesn't know a season in England that does not end with a Women's Super League winner's medal. That is no coincidence. Kerr's presence and the Blues' domestic supremacy are mutually exclusive. The former feeds the latter.

It's what supporters who arrive at Kingsmeadow on a weekend expect to see - they eagerly await the moment. The second the ball lands at Kerr's feet in the final third, anticipation rises. The intake of air is audible. Jubilation often follows.

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Kerr has been involved in nine goals in her six WSL appearances against United (seven goals, two assists) - she also scored and assisted in the reverse fixture back in early November. Marc Skinner's side must be sick of the sight of her - an opinion, presumably, shared by most of the WSL.

What, then, is Kerr's secret? How is she so effective in and around opposition areas? And is it possible to stop her almost inevitable impact on games?

"Listen, she should have had a hat-trick," manager Emma Hayes commented in the aftermath of Chelsea's crucial 1-0 victory at the weekend - a result that sent them soaring back to the top of the league. "To be fair, I say that because that's how good she is," Hayes remarked in the same breath.

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Highlights of the WSL clash between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Kerr's brilliance is rooted in her unrivalled ability to create something from nothing. Her movement is so intelligent it unnerves defenders. She plays on the shoulder, feigns disinterest, before exploding into life when the ball is travelling her way. Sunday's match-winner was a demonstration of such intelligence, as well as Kerr's unerring accuracy, pace and power.

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Sam Kerr produced a moment of quality for Chelsea as her superb lob gave the Blues a 1-0 win over Manchester United and sent them top of the WSL table.

Team-mate Lauren James barely looked up to spot the run, she didn't need to. The trigger had already been initiated. James took one touch to swivel into space and the second to execute an inch-perfect pass into the path of Kerr, who, having fired two previous warning shots, made no mistake with her third opportunity to get the better of England No 1 Mary Earps.

Every action of the move was deliberate. Kerr ran purposefully between Hannah Blundell and Maya Le Tissier - neither defender with tabs on her whereabouts - before using her chest to nudge the ball into shooting range. Earps felt compelled to engage, but Kerr is clever as well as skilled. She waited for the precise moment Earps became stranded in no man's land, before lifting the ball over her head into the far corner of the net.

"We felt calm once we got the goal," Kerr said post-match. In truth, she never looked anything but calm and composed - patient too. During the first half against United Kerr touched the ball six times which led to three shots on goal. Two were saved, the other hit the back of the net.

Chelsea are not prolific from wide areas, like say Manchester City are. City's style relies heavily on deliveries from Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly, among others, into Bunny Shaw, who more often than not applies the telling touch. Service is abundant and reliable. On average, City deliver 7.5 accurate crosses from wide areas per game to Chelsea's 4.8.


The Blues tend to carve through the heart of their victims, using Kerr as a focal point. There is no right or wrong route to goal, but perhaps, the role of the striker is different in each instance. Kerr, effortlessly versatile, is capable of scoring all manner of goals because she has the ability and impudence to try the outrageous, but also gets the simple things right.

She is the master of space and timing. Consider her equaliser against Arsenal back in mid-January. Chelsea were played off the park that day, consumed by the Gunners' commitment to all-out attack. Jonas Eidevall's side managed seven shots on target to Chelsea's two, yet the scoreline finished 1-1. Why? Kerr's nerve.

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Sam Kerr's late header earns Chelsea a 1-1 draw at Arsenal.

She was offered one chance to make a difference from Jelena Cankovic's cross - in the 89th minute - and she took it. Big players affect big games. Kerr floated between Leah Williamson and Laura Wienroither before powering a bullet header beyond Manuela Zinsberger's clutches.


Plenty of top strikers drift in and out of games and Kerr is no different. Chelsea conceded 63 per cent of the possession in their latest win over United, and only created one big chance, which Kerr stuck away. The same story unfolded against Arsenal not long ago - one big chance created, one goal scored by Kerr. Her contributions are timely.

In a 3-0 Champions League win over Paris St Germain back in December Kerr had one shot on target - the opening goal - before creating one big chance, which James converted. Sure, she has defensive duties too, but that isn't where she excels. Kerr is the WSL's second-highest scorer of non-penalty goals this season despite Chelsea's xG, 1.75 per 90 minutes played, being inferior to Man City (2.42), Arsenal (2.24) and Man United (1.82). She has the killer instinct that few possess, much less master.

Demanding the ball is also something the Aussie international is unafraid of. The Blues' midfield trio are trained in how to find Kerr's run - it's almost telepathic. As a team Chelsea play an average of 38.4 long balls per game - more than any other side in the league - and the majority are aimed at their central striker. The connection and rapport Kerr has with the likes of Fran Kirby and more recently James plays a huge part in her, and Chelsea's, success.

Hayes last month hailed Kerr as the "best in the business" as she scored her 81st goal in her 100th game for the club. She shows no signs of slowing. With only one-year left on her current deal, the 29-year-old revealed her intentions to stay in west London earlier this week: "If you're listening Emma, sign me up," she remarked after being named WSL player of the season at the London Football Awards.

Chelsea of course have designs on yet more trophies and Kerr does too - they are now favourites for a fifth consecutive WSL crown. While Kerr is on their books and firing, that same outcome seems increasingly likely.

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