Hemp setting new standards at title-chasing Man City
Lauren Hemp is playing at the peak of her powers under Gareth Taylor this season.
The Manchester City forward was the star of the show in last weekend's 2-0 win over Leicester and netted her sixth Women's Super League goal of the campaign.
And it was a typically eye-catching finish that looked the part, even if Hemp herself insists she did not mean it.
As the three-time winners prepare for a mouth-watering Women's FA Cup clash with Arsenal, we reflect on Hemp's importance to the Citizens.
Currently operating at a rate of 0.57 goals per 90 minutes in the WSL, Hemp is on course to surpass her best-ever tally of 10 strikes in 2021-22.
The 23-year-old has also provided three assists, taking her total league goal contributions to nine.
Only three players in the division — Khadija Shaw (16), Lauren James (13) and Elisabeth Terland (10) — boast a better record this term.
Hemp's consistent performances have helped City put together a remarkable run of seven successive WSL wins and only Chelsea have won more games than the challengers this term,
She was also on target in her side's most recent Continental Cup game, a 2-1 win over rivals Manchester United.
And Hemp was influential as City cruised past Durham in the fourth round of the FA Cup to set up a fifth-round tie against Arsenal.
The England international will be pivotal in the second half of the season, with three trophies still up for grabs.
It is no coincidence that City are offering Chelsea a genuine title challenge during one of the most productive periods of Hemp's career.
Despite her relative youth, she is a player capable of carrying her team forward and producing a moment of magic when it is needed most.
Back in November, manager Taylor said: "I think Lauren is someone who needs a challenge. She needs to feel confident.
"She has set such high standards — I've really noticed a difference in her in terms of getting after games.
"When Lauren opens her shoulders up towards goal she is just so hard to play against.
"She is such a threat and causes so many problems to teams. And she's got that final quality that makes a real difference."
With a three-point gap to the league leaders, City will feel they are still in with a chance of denying the Blues a fifth successive title — and will be confident of cup success too.
Whether they can secure silverware on multiple fronts could depend on Hemp's performances in the remaining months.
Few players are as adept at producing game-changing moments, which will be crucial in fine-margin encounters.
If she can maintain her current form for the rest of the season, City can undoubtedly go the distance in the WSL, the Continental Cup and the FA Cup — starting with this afternoon's tantalising match-up against Arsenal.