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Durham v Sunderland - Barclays FA Women’s Championship

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Lasses Analysis: Looking closer at Sunderland’s Katie Kitching - just how good is she?

Yet another one of Sunderland Women's summer signings has proven to be a vital component to the way the team plays. But just how good is 25-year-old Katie Kitching?

Photo by Stu Forster - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

In many aspects, Katie Kitching is the ‘textbook’ player - she does a lot of things that any top academy would teach a promising young player to do.

The strongest area of her game is the technical calibre of her skill-set, both in and out of possession. It’s the foundation of her style as a ten: reliable and constant.

She has really good foundational skills, particularly when she gets ready to receive the ball. She continually opens her body up to generate alternatives, scans space frequently to assess the environment and inform decisions, creates fantastic passing angles with simple yet precise positional modifications, and controls the ball with good touches on either foot that set up beneficial actions. Each separate expertise works together to give her exceptional operational speed.

A quick passer, Kitching seldom needs more than two touches to receive and release the ball. Her exceptional situational awareness, which she possesses because of her frequent scanning, allows her to plan and select her alternatives before she even gets the ball, cutting down on the amount of time it takes her to complete the pass.

She frequently and without much hesitation locates clear space during build-up phases or punches passes through lines. Kitching’s play style is advantageous since it takes advantage of gaps in the opposition’s defence and ignites her team’s offensive.

Sunderland v Watford - Barclays Women’s Championship Photo by Richard Callis/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Her range of passing is adaptable as well. Kitching does a lot of short, sharp passing from positions in front of her defence and at the base of attack, but she is very adept at expanding play from those areas too. She can easily hit accurate switch passes that reach attackers high and wide thanks to her great technique; her relationships with right winger Mary McAteer and wing-back Jessica Brown are two excellent examples.

Because of her technical security, the 25-year-old frequently provides a useful outlet when things go tough. She is rarely afraid when pressed for the ball and is willing to accept it in any circumstance. Rather, she expresses clear confidence in her ability to keep the ball safe and transfer it out of harm’s path.

She primarily achieves this through deft use of her small physique and one-touch passing, but she can also easily evade pressure with a quick spin and dribble.

In addition to being a skilled ball player, Kitching excels at winning balls and has demonstrated this with impressive statistics. Many of us fans have dubbed her the “Mini Messi,” a description that perfectly captures both her demeanour and style.

In addition to her diminutive stature and powerful build, Kitching exudes an evident ferocity. She possesses the power to complete tasks and patrols space, taking on difficulties head-on. Kitching uses brutal pressing and intensity, yet her defensive skills are excellent.

She cleverly slows down when she gets closer to the ball, positions herself well to jockey the carrier, and then lowers herself into a crouch that gives her more stability and agility to equal her opponent.

Her body control and footwork are strong, and she usually times her interventions well. She instantly readjusts and tries again, even if she misses. She constantly prods and nags, interfering with players’ balance, technique, and judgement. She is more efficient in cramped places due to her diminutive stature and short-range quickness, but she can also cover big expanses with deft placement and anticipation.

Sunderland v Reading - Barclays Women’s Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Not only can Kitching be dangerous in broad areas but also in between the lines due to her excellent positional sense, great close control, and quick burst of pace when dribbling. The 25-year-old is projected as a strong ball-carrier who is equally at ease turning opponents as she is going one-on-one with them. Her ability to use a kick-and-run motion in different phases, in particular, indicates a certain level of athleticism.

A vital attribute for midfielders, Kitching's agility and frequent scanning enables her to mentally photograph the pitch, which facilitates her fluid movement and timing. She is without a doubt an outstanding technical player, and her game and potential are built on this expertise.

It’s quite impossible to pin Kitching down to just one viewpoint. Tethering her skills to a specific area of the field would be detrimental for the player, the team, and the coach. Rather, she roams about as she pleases, straying from one touchline to the next and all points in between in search of gaps between the lines.

When she has the ball, Kitching enjoys driving at opponents. She is a superb ball handler in confined areas, able to manipulate the ball in any manner she pleases. She can roll it with her studs to evade a tackle or fast move it from foot to foot to get past opponents.

It’s delightful to witness her skill’s dexterity. She is also a hazardous ball carrier in larger areas and over longer distances. Her speed is what really sticks out in these moves; she appears to run faster when she has the ball than when she doesn’t, and her controlled gait doesn’t waver because her quick touches keep the ball close to her feet. Just look at her goal against Reading to see this in full effect!

Kitching continues to grow with each passing game, just when you feel like she has reached her peak, she quickly punishes such short-sightedness by adding another tether to her bow. She is someone who is playing with confidence and is adding goals and assists to her game to further emphasise her abilities and translate that into phases that wins games.

In summary, Kitching has been a truly smart, astute and shrewd signing.

It’s no wonder the fans are left tantalised at the end of each game!


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