Everton face fellow WSL side Bristol City on Sunday, January 17th at 8:00 a.m. ET/1:00 p.m. BST, with the game being played at Walton Hall Park. This will be Everton’s first match of the new year.
The last time Everton suited up for a competitive fixture, they were getting blown out by Arsenal in London by a score of 4–0. For as sourly as the Toffees ended an overall positive 2020 season, the Merseyside outfit will be looking to 2021 for a clean slate. And although their first test of the new year — a fixture against league-leading United — was postponed last weekend, Willie Kirk has his team ready to make a strong push almost halfway through the season.
Sunday’s matchup is a must-win as Everton have been starved of a victory — they have not won a league match since October 18. In two and a half months, the Toffees have gone 0–2–3; however, the defeats came to Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. And while the losses are understandable, due to the pedigree of their opponents, Everton conceded 11 goals, an unacceptable tally.
For all of Everton’s recent struggles in the Super League, aside from the FA Cup Final loss in November, they have enjoyed success in cup competitions — the Toffees went 2–0–0 in the Continental Cup group stage, and while they failed to qualify for the knockout round of the competition, they looked convincing in possession and dominant on defense.
Ten games into the season, Bristol are the only team yet to have won a game in the Super League. A dismal record of 0–2–8 has the Robins floundering in last place with just two points. Not only have Bristol struggled in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, they are conceding almost four times per game (39 goals through ten matches).
For all their league struggles, Bristol have enjoyed tremendous success in the Continental Cup. Despite being placed in a group with three teams from the Championship, England’s second tier, the Robins performed as a top-flight team should — they were undefeated in group play and have advanced to the semifinals following a gutsy 2–1 win over WSL side Aston Villa.
Over the holiday layoff, Everton signed winger Claire Emslie, who previously was on loan from the Orlando Pride of the NWSL, to an 18-month contract, a move that will certainly boost the offensive depth Kirk has at his disposal; Emslie has two goals and two assists in the Super League this season, numbers she undoubtedly will add to.
Then there’s Gabby George, who has been rehabbing a ruptured ACL suffered last February and nearing a return to action. When the 23-year-old center-back is able to suit up for the Toffees, her return would help offset the loss of center-half Rikke Sevecke, who is expected to be out through the end of the month. George’s insertion at the heart of Everton’s defense would see Damaris Egurrola move back to her preferred center defensive midfield role, which would give Everton more balance on all levels of the field.
Despite a difficult start to the domestic campaign, Bristol City are not shy on talent. They are led by England international Sophie Baggaley in net and center-backs Gemma Evans and Laura Rafferty. Former Evertonian Faye Bryson also has been a stable contributor on the defensive end. In midfield, Bristol bring strong play through Carla Humphrey, Chloe Logarzo and Ella Mastrantonio. And rounding out the attack are technical forwards Emma Bissell Ebony Salmon.
These two sides met on opening day of the 2020/21 season. On September sixth, Everton traveled to Twerton Park and handed Bristol a 4–0 drubbing. In the first game of the season, Everton enjoyed goals from Simone Magill, Lucy Graham and Valérie Gauvin. This match put the two teams on contrasting trajectories, with Everton soaring to early-season success as Bristol went on a run of four consecutive league defeats.
Competition: FA Women’s Super League
Date and start time: Sunday, January 17th at 8:00 a.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. BST
Stadium: Walton Hall Park, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Capacity: 2,200 (behind closed doors)
How to Watch/Listen
tTV & Radio: N/A
Match Center: evertontv
Live stream: evertontv (free for members, registration required), FA WSL (free, registration required)