Jessie Fleming’s task was simple: just fill in for the injured perennial Ballon d’Or contender Pernille Harder in the Chelsea front line, alongside Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby. Sounds easy, right?
As it turned out, Fleming actually made it look easy as well. Herself a growing force in women’s football, all she did was score the winning goal versus Aston Villa, start the scoring in Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Manchester City, and assist Chelsea’s second of five put past Birmingham City. That a goal contribution in every league match Chelsea played in November.
So far, there doesn’t seem to be a scenario which can rattle the 23-year-old. Throughout Canada’s Summer Olympics campaign, Christine Sinclair (the greatest goalscorer ever in international football, men’s or women’s) routinely handed the ball to Fleming for key penalties. Fleming converted every one and earned her team the surprise gold medal.
Stepping in for Harder is another such ridiculous ask. While their games are very different (Fleming is a midfielder after all), she was effective enough at it to keep playing the role. Emma Hayes could have always used Guro Reiten there as well (and bring in Niamh Charles or Jonna Andersson as the left wing-back replacement), but she never needed to.
With Harder coming back to full fitness, Hayes may find it ... harder ... to dole out the minutes available. Given the versatility Fleming has showed, and the performances she’s put in, it’ll be important to find opportunities for her to maintain form. I’d love to see Fleming join the midfield rotation, for example: her energy, ability to read play, and tenacity would make her a promising fit.
Congratulations to Jessie Fleming, and please, Dear Reader, GO SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS OF JESSIE FLEMING.
Let’s relive this outrageous pass, shall we?