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FA WSL Preview: Everton vs Brighton | Toffees looking for fifth consecutive league win

The Seagulls travel from the South Coast to tackle tenacious Toffees

Everton Women v West Ham United Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Everton face fellow WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion, Sunday, October 18th at 8 a.m. ET/1 p.m. BST, with the game being played at Walton Hall Park. For the first time in the league season, Everton will play back-to-back home games; the Toffees will look to continue their perfect start to the domestic campaign.

With a convincing 3–1 win over West Ham United last weekend, Everton moved past the Continental Cup defeat to Manchester City and into second place in the league. A 5–0 roughing-up at the hands of league-leaders Arsenal saw Brighton fall to an overall record of 1–1–2.

After slipping up against City, Everton rebounded almost as brilliantly as expected. Aside from a defending error, the Toffees smothered a struggling West Ham side. Everton are 4–0 in the super league, having scored 14 goals while conceding only once.

Brighton, meanwhile, have had an inconsistent start to the season. Their lone win came in the opening fixture against Birmingham City, a 2–0 victory. Despite an early three points, Brighton have had an unenvious three-game stretch during which they faced City, Manchester United and Arsenal (in that order). Against three of the top sides in the league, Brighton are 0–1–2 and have failed to score, while allowing eight goals.

And while Everton have had a dream start to the resumption of the FA Cup — two wins and a place in the November 1 Final — Brighton lost to Birmingham on penalties in the quarter-finals of the competition and lost their opening match of the Continental Cup to West Ham — a game also lost on penalties.

Last Sunday, Everton Head Coach Willie Kirk reverted back to the standard 4-2-3-1 against West Ham. This came after implementing a 3-4-3 formation that left the Toffees exposed against City. With plenty of depth in his squad, Kirk has the luxury of switching tactics and lineups to maximize his players’ strengths. The 4-2-3-1 allows Everton to maintain discipline in the back and push the ball through the midfield and out to the wings. Everton’s attack should be in full force on Sunday against the Gulls.

Conversely, Brighton Boss Hope Powell has been much more unpredictable with her lineups, having demonstrated a willingness to experiment with various formations. Through six games — in the league and in cup competitions — Powell has utilized four different formations. Her two favored setups have been the 4-4-2 (used twice) and the 4-2-3-1 (twice). The Englishwoman also has used an unorthodox 4-1-4-1 (once) and a defensive 4-5-1 (once). The Seagulls have had modest success with the 4-2-3-1 but may have to play more conservatively against a potent Everton attack.

On the Everton attack, it will again be led by the likes of Claire Emslie (two goals), Hayley Raso (two) and Nicoline Sørensen (two) on the wings, paired with Izzy Christiansen (one) and Lucy Graham (four) in midfield. Goalkeeper Sandy MacIver also will look to keep her fourth clean sheet in five league games.

For Brighton, Megan Walsh has started every league game in net, while the duo of captain Danielle Bowman and Denise O’Sullivan, on loan from the North Carolina Courage of the NWSL, have forged a strong partnership in the middle of the pitch for the Seagulls. Rounding out the attack is dynamic midfielder Megan Connolly, who is the team’s leading goal-scorer with two, and former Blue Inessa Kaagman (one).

Last Meeting

The last meeting between the two sides was in the league on February 2, 2020 — a 1–0 Brighton win. Even though the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the FA to cancel the remainder of the women’s season in March, Everton and Brighton were able to play both scheduled matches last season. A 1–0 loss away from home was preceded by a 2–0 Everton home win. With both teams making significant improvements to their squads, Sunday’s affair should be a competitive and gritty contest.

Match Details

Competition: FA Women’s Super League

Date and start time: Wednesday, October 18th at 8 a.m. ET / 1 p.m. BST

Stadium: Walton Hall Park, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom

Capacity: 2,200 (behind closed doors)

How to Watch/Listen

TV & Radio: N/A

Match Centre: evertontv

Live stream: evertontv (free for members, registration required), FA WSL (free, registration required)