Sam Kerr: How much will Chelsea miss striker following ACL injury?

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Sam Kerr has helped Chelsea win four successive Women’s Super League titles since joining the club in 2019Chelsea will need to defend their Women’s Super League title without top scorer Sam Kerr for the remainder of the season because of injury – but just how much of a miss will she be?

The superstar striker has scored 99 goals in 128 matches since signing for the Blues in 2019, helping them win four WSL titles in a row.

Chelsea currently sit three points clear of rivals Manchester City at the top of the table, but can they retain their lead?

BBC Sport takes a look at how important Kerr’s goals have been and what her side will be missing for the second half of the campaign.

Top female players at higher risk of ACL injuries, says FifproWhy are so many players suffering ACL injuries?Where does she rank in the WSL’s goalscoring charts?When Kerr joined Chelsea she was already widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world having broken records to become the all-time leading scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League in the US and the Australian W-League.

She had an immediate impact with the club, picking up an assist on her debut against Reading and contributing to a 3-1 win, before netting her first Chelsea goal in a 4-1 victory over London rivals Arsenal.

Kerr has gone on to score double figures in each of her last three seasons and no player in the WSL has more goals than the Australian since her arrival in England.

With 58 goals from 75 WSL appearances, Kerr has netted 20 times more than Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema and Manchester City’s current top scorer Khadija Shaw in that period – though she has played more minutes.

She has the second best minutes-per-goal ratio in WSL history, with only City’s Shaw ahead with an average of one goal every 89 minutes, in comparison to Kerr’s one every 95 minutes.

In the all-time WSL goalscoring charts, only Miedema with 74 goals and retired ex-Manchester City striker Ellen White with 61 goals, have found the back of the net more than Kerr.

How crucial have Kerr’s goals been?Kerr has tormented plenty of opposition during her time in the WSL but the clubs she has scored the most against are West Ham and Manchester United, who Chelsea beat to the title by two points last season.

She often has the final say, with 21 of her 58 league goals proving to be match-winners, while six of them have come in the last 15 minutes.

But more crucially, Kerr’s goals have contributed hugely to a flurry of silverware amid an era of Chelsea dominance in the English game.

She picked up the WSL Golden Boot on the final day of the 2020-21 campaign when she scored in a 5-0 win over Reading to take her overall tally to 21 as Chelsea lifted their second of four successive titles.

Season Games playedMinutes playedGoals scoredAssistsMinutes per goal2019-20204296112962020-2021221527217732021-2022201558204782022-20232115471251292023-2024*859043148That capped her best season to date, in which she also picked up seven assists in 22 games and averaged a goal every 73 minutes.

She would go on to be Chelsea’s top scorer again for the next two seasons – lifting the WSL title at the end of both of them – as well as picking up a host of individual accolades.

When team-mate Fran Kirby has been fit the two have combined for an impressive 18 goals, with Kerr scoring 10 goals from the service of the England international, who has been teed up for eight goals by Kerr in return.

The mark of a great player is their ability to perform on the biggest stages and Kerr has certainly done that.

Aside from their WSL success, Chelsea retained the Women’s League Cup in 2021 with a 6-0 win over Bristol City and Kerr became the first player to score a hat-trick in the final of the competition, unleashing her trademark backflip in the process.

She has also scored three goals in two FA Cup finals.

Who can step up in Kerr’s absence?The biggest question now will be how Chelsea cope without Kerr.

So far this season England forward Lauren James has delivered the goods, hitting seven goals in nine WSL appearances, and is the club’s current top scorer.

Twenty-year-old Aggie Beever-Jones has the best minutes-per-goal ratio in the league after scoring five in seven appearances, with all of those coming as a substitute, averaging 2.69 goals a game.

But the only player besides Kerr to have scored double figures in the WSL for Chelsea in the past three seasons is Kirby, when she registered 16 in 2020-21.

Former Chelsea defender Gilly Flaherty told BBC Sport the club might shop in the January transfer window to bolster their attacking options.

“It will be interesting to see if Chelsea do anything in the transfer window now after losing a player like Sam Kerr,” said Flaherty.

“Kirby is a goalscorer, though you have to manage her minutes too and she hasn’t really played much as a number nine since Kerr came to Chelsea.

“It’s a great chance for Beever-Jones. We’ve seen her come off the bench and get the goals this season. There’s obviously Mia Fishel, the new signing in the summer.

“But Chelsea are a little bit thin at the top now. I don’t think you could sign any player to replace Sam Kerr, but it will be interesting to see if they buy another striker to cover the load.”


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