Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said that Sam Kerr ‘means everything’ to the Blues after the striker scored her 50th WSL goal for the club during Sunday’s win over Aston Villa.
Kerr has spent just over three years at Chelsea and has racked up the half century of goals in only 62 league appearances. She is also the first non-European to hit the impressive milestone.
But while the landmark strike itself wasn’t particularly significant in the context of the Villa game given that Chelsea already had a 2-0 lead at the time, Hayes chose to focus on what Kerr gives through her reliability and near constant availability.
Since the Australian international joined Chelsea in January 2020, the club has played 66 times in the WSL and Kerr has missed only four of those games. It becomes even more impressive when considering that international breaks will usually see her on long haul flights home.
“Sam means everything to this team because we can count on her. She’s been fit and available. She’s been the only out-and-out striker we’ve had in this half of the season,” Hayes told Sky Sports.
“Ever since she’s been here she’s on the grass all the time. With someone like Sam she not only makes the difference on the pitch, but she does it off the pitch too.”
Gunning for a fourth consecutive WSL title, the 2022/23 edition once again appears to be Chelsea’s to lose as long as they win an outstanding game in hand against Liverpool.
The Blues trail Manchester United by one point but have played a game less than the current leaders due to the abandonment of the aforementioned Liverpool game in January. That fixture will now be played on Wednesday 3 May instead.
Losing to Manchester City in March was a bump in the road for Chelsea without being disastrous. They also now only have one remaining game against another of the four title contenders when they face Arsenal on the penultimate weekend of the season.
But there will be tests ahead. Hayes’ team are still fighting on three fronts, with FA Cup and Champions League semi-finals, and potentially finals, to come as well. The slight disadvantage there is that none of their rivals are competing in any more than two competitions, which is sure to stretch a squad that has had injuries to deal with as thin as it will go.