Spurs go to Birmingham minus Kit

This weekend Spurs Women travel to St Andrews to face Birmingham City Women. Spurs are on a high after last week’s demolition of Brighton while Birmingham are currently sitting at the bottom of the WSL, on just 4 points, their only win of the season over Arsenal. This is therefore an eminently winnable game. Moreover, Spurs have a good head-to-head record over Birmingham (two wins in the last two games and, previous to that, two draws). But at this stage of the season Birmingham are fighting for points, they have experienced players, and are likely to be a tricky opposition as Manager, Rehanne Skinner discusses.

The reverse fixture, played at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, was on 4th September 2021. That game ended 1-0 to Spurs, with a headed Kit Graham goal (assist from Ria Percival).  

Click on image to go to BBC Highlights of Spurs home game against Birmingham.

In last season’s equivalent fixture, away to Birmingham in May 2021, Kit was again the goalscorer in another 1-0.

Highlights of May 2021 Birmingam-Spurs (0-1)

Missing Kit

With Kit out of action following anterior cruciate ligament injury in the game at West Ham, and likely not back in the squad until next season, the upcoming game at Birmingham seems a good excuse to recap – and celebrate – what she brought to the team in the first part of the season and why she’s been a big loss.

For those of you who like stats, her contribution is nicely illustrated in the chart below produced by Ash for the Dribbles and Nutmegs blog. This shows that Kit was one of the WSL’s top progressive carriers and passers, sitting far out in the top right-hand corner of the chart. Only a few very elite players (Viv Miedema, Lauren Hemp) make more progressive carries per 100 touches, and similarly only a few (but a different few) players make more progressive passes (normalised by game minutes).

For the fan, watching Kit sometimes seemed like watching a steam-roller, in that she can receive the ball turn and somehow run straight into two defenders, emerging on the other side with the ball at her feet. Her direct play, down the centre of midfield, is something that no-one else in the team quite accomplishes. This ability to push the ball forward and into the opposition half is seen by the fact that, despite several months out of action, Kit still features in the top ten of the WSL for total carries into the final third and through balls provided.

In addition, in the 534 minutes Kit played before her injury she scored twice and had an xG per 90 (expected goals per 90 minutes played) of 0.44 (7th in the WSL). She also made 1.52 on-target shots per 90 (5th in the league).

Highlights of Kit’s 2019/20 season

So this is a good time to wish Kit a very speedy recovery and return to the field. We miss you!

The good news is that while the team is still missing Kit, Rachel Williams has done a remarkable job of covering some of the gap, scoring 4 and assisting on another. And last week’s goal-fest offered hope that other players are starting to hit their goal-scoring rhythm. Moreover, the final Asian Cup absentees, Tang Jiali and Cho So-hyun, are on their way back, both having scored important goals as their teams progressed to the finals. Jiali scored and created a goal for China to lift the trophy, while Cho was player of the match in an earlier game.

The signs are good.

Birmingham Connections

A trip to Birmingham marks a return for Kerys Harrop and Rachel Williams who both represented the Midlands club for many years. They, along with Becky Spencer were part of a 2012 FA Cup winning squad (with Rachel on the score-sheet that day). In those days Spurs were still playing in the National Division.

For a bit of nostalgia, check out Rachel, Kerys and Becky in this clip from the 2012 final.

Last bits

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