It’s going to be an epic Merseyside Derby week, with the Red and Blue women playing on Sunday just a few hours before the men’s derby, and then again on Wednesday for a Continental Cup game.
The women’s derby kicks off at 12:00 pm local time (7:00 am ET) Sunday and will be broadcast live on Facebook.
Liverpool Women will be helmed by manager Vicky Jepsen, who took over after Neil Redfearn abruptly quit in September after only two matches. Rumor has it that Redfearn was frustrated by the lack of resources and commitment given from leaders at the club compared to what he wanted in order to break into the top three (Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea). Things were looking grim, but they have managed to win three games this season (against Yeovil Town, West Ham United, and Brighton & Hove Albion) and are currently in 8th place.
While Liverpool is disappointed because they finished in 6th place last season and wanted to climb the table instead of slide further down it, Everton Ladies have also experienced turmoil of their own this season, but to an even greater degree. The Toffees are winless and currently sit in last place in the relegation zone.
After only drawing the newly brought up Brighton and then losing to the worst team in the WSL ever, manager Andy Spence stepped down and goalkeeping coach Jen Herst is now serving as caretaker. Latest rumours say that assistant manager Willie Kirk is about to make the switch from Manchester United to take over, but there’s been no confirmation yet.
The Blues started their 2017/2018 season off with a 2-0 loss to the Reds but improved vastly enough to go on to draw 1-1 in April. Jodie Brett had scored the lone goal for Everton and then left the club over the summer for Brighton. Ten players left Liverpool in June but the team made a flurry of new signings in July, while Everton had an unfortunate off season, losing their starting goalie to Chelsea and their star striker, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, to their Merseyside rivals. Sweetman-Kirk is Liverpool’s top goalscorer, having netted 3 so far this season.
Everton and Liverpool played a preseason game in July and it ended in a 0-0 draw.
Unfortunately, it seems as though the Toffees have regressed since then, so there’s no telling what will happen this Sunday and Wednesday.
Kirstie Levell; Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Georgia Brougham, Megan Finnigan, Gabby George; Chloe Kelly, Dominique Bruinenberg, Angharad James, Inessa Kaagman, Simone Magill; Hannah Cain.
Interim Manager Herst has been playing around with formations, opting for a 4-4-2 for their loss against Arsenal and then a 4-2-3-1 for their loss against Reading. Expect to see new striker Hannah Cain up top after she scored her first goal for Everton against Reading, impressing enough to gain a spot in the WSL’s goal of the week:
Captain Dan Turner was not available for the last two games, although it’s not quite clear why. Before the Arsenal match, Everton posted that Turner would be there and then never updated as to why she wasn’t:
ⓒ | "We want to see as many fans there as possible. @southport_fc is really starting to feel like home now."@danturner11 will be there against Arsenal on Sunday - will you?— Everton Ladies (@EvertonLadies) November 17, 2018
In her place, England international Gabby George has been wearing the captain’s arm band. Expect to see Everton Ladies Player of the 2017/2018 Season Angharad James and Inessa Kaagman in the midfield with Chloe Kelly as forward.
Megan Finnigan has been playing both in the backline and in midfield this season and told Everton.com that the recent formation switch is helping them defensively:
“Playing four at the back makes us that little bit tighter and with [midfielder Angharad James] and I playing as the two sitting midfielders, we had that defensive core. Looking ahead, we need to prioritise that defensive shape to make sure we are conceding fewer goals.”
Liverpool Women are dealing with Niamh Charles being out due to injury, while Jasmine Matthews, Leighanne Robe, and Jess Clarke are all recently back from injury.
Everton Ladies have not been a goal scoring threat this season, but neither have Liverpool Women, both only scoring 5 league goals so far. That’s the lowest in the league, joined by Yeovil Town.
On paper, Everton and Liverpool aren’t that vastly different. They both have about the same amount of goals scored for and against them and they both have had some management changes. Everton can beat Liverpool. They can do it! But will they? They have two opportunities this week to prove that they can.
Herst told WSL.com that the squad is looking forward to the Merseyside derby:
”We feel we’re a step closer, the belief is even higher again, we’re really looking forward to the game and the belief is there; we are going to put in a good performance.”
COME ON YOU BLUES!
December 2nd, Sunday
12pm Local, 7 am ET
Southport FC’s Merseyrail Community Stadium
Watch it live: FA WSL Facebook page