Fran Kirby makes the difference in ridiculous Chelsea squad
Chelsea are embarrassed with the wealth at their disposal, but it was Fran Kirby who made the difference in Sunday’s top-level clash with Manchester United in the Women’s Super League and walked away with the player of the match award. .
Just over a year ago, Kirby began her battle with an inflammatory heart disease known as pericarditis. This can cause shortness of breath, fever and weakness and has led the player to sleep up to 15 hours a day in the early stages.
Chelsea’s Fran Kirby is in the shape of a life ahead of Sunday’s WSL clash with Manchester United
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Last spring Kirby admitted she struggled to “feel human” due to the illness and even considered quitting football altogether. For the sake of Chelsea and for the sake of the WSL and English football as a whole, it’s a relief that she didn’t.
The 27-year-old, whose previous injury issues were ultimately behind her – making the diagnosis all the more frustrating, returned to action for Chelsea in September after a ten-month absence.
Since returning, Kirby has become Chelsea’s all-time top scorer, scoring a Champions League brace against Benfica in December and scoring a perfect hat-trick on a four-goal run against the former club. Reading earlier this month. Blues boss Emma Hayes remarked that she was in the “shape of her life.” It’s incredible given the circumstances.
Kirby scored eight WSL goals in 2020/21 in just eight appearances and only Arsenal superstar Vivianne Miedema has scored more. As well as being Chelsea’s top scorer, she is also the main goal-giver and is fourth in the WSL overall assists standings.
Kirby’s eighth goal of the season was the winner against Manchester United. She reacted most quickly to a long ball from goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger which split United’s defense and quietly converted the face-to-face to restore Chelsea’s lead, just as the visitors had taken of magnitude and equalized.
The Blues are now at the top of the WSL standings with a match in progress and more and more favorites for the title.
The fact that Kirby has such an impact for Chelsea is a testament to his abilities and his mentality.
The Chelsea squad are beyond ridiculous and any player not performing at an elite level wouldn’t be able to take a look. Even those who would enter any other WSL team, and probably most in Europe – like reigning PFA Player of the Year Bethany England and creative maestro Guro Reiten – had to settle for a spot on the bench Sunday for the biggest game of the season.
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