English soccer has enjoyed its fair share of the most striking of strike partnerships down the years – from Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish, through Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, to Son Heung-min and Harry Kane.
Yet maybe it’s time for the blokes to step aside.
For, currently, the most formidable double act in British football can be found in the Women’s Super League, with Chelsea’s irresistible Anglo-Australian combination of Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr.
On Wednesday, the Blues face the most difficult test yet this season in their remarkable four-trophy assault when they take a precarious 2-1 advantage into their Champions League quarter-final second leg in Budapest against last year’s finalists, Wolfsburg.
Manager Emma Hayes has played down her side’s hopes by reflecting how European football’s elite, like Lyon and Paris St Germain in France and Barcelona in Spain, have shown just how far English sides still have to go to match the very best.
Yet there’s one area in which she knows her side have a potentially world-beating advantage – the ‘Special K’ partnership between Matildas superstar Kerr and the brilliant England striker Kirby.
They’ve scored 37 goals between them in all competitions this year, building up such an uncanny understanding that they’ve actually combined with each other for nine of those goals in the WSL – an unprecedented figure in the English women’s top flight.
When Kerr scored her hat-trick in the recent League Cup 6-0 trouncing of Bristol City, Kirby, who scored twice, actually had a hand in all six goals.
Their seemingly telepathic understanding has even reminded Hayes of one of the most celebrated pairings in the domestic men’s game between Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole in Manchester United’s 1990s heyday.
“I think about Yorke and Cole when I think of Kerr and Kirby in terms of the spaces they feel,” says Hayes, who’ll be hoping her dynamic duo can end up close to the 53 goals the United pair scored in their 1999 treble-winning season.
“And for me the thing that stands out is the selflessness.
“You don’t come across these types of partnerships easily and sometimes they’re formed over many, many years.
“The amount of times Fran has been in great positions herself and set someone else up, and the amount of times Sam makes a run not for herself but to clear space.
“That, for me, is as impactful as the chemistry between them.”
Kerr, who is the WSL’s second top scorer this season with 14 goals, simply enthuses about her friend Kirby: “She’s a quality, quality player and you can see that with every game we play we’re getting more and more cohesive. So it’s been incredible for me.”
Asked if they have a telepathic relationship on the field, she added: “It looks like that. She’s so easy to play with, I know exactly what’s she’s going to do. I can trust her on the ball. She’s a special talent.”