In their last home match of 2021, the Everton Women bowed out of the FA Women’s League Cup after a dreadful 2-0 loss to Manchester United.
The Toffees finished the Continental Cup with a 2-0-2 record and a minus-three goal differential. Again, the Blues showed they can handle the minnows — the team picked up wins against Leicester City and Durham — but for some season, the Merseyside outfit can’t seem to find a way to topple the top clubs even after changing managers.
What’s more worrisome is that these two sides had just played to a 1-1 draw on Nov. 14. With similar lineups, the Toffees looked like a completely different team. Manager Jean-Luc Vasseur made some changes, but the alterations to the side did not lessen the quality of the side.
Here are the statistics from Nov. 14 compared to Wednesday:
Nov. 14: Shots on target: 5, Possession: 52%, Corners: 2, Goals: 1
Wednesday: Shots on target: 0, Possession: 63%, Corners: 0, Goals: 0
The most glaring issue with Wednesday’s affair is that the Blues held more possession in their loss than in their win.
The possession issue is one that plagued the team under former manager Willie Kirk as well. Everton has the talent to keep the ball, but seldom is there meaningful forward progress. The languid movement up the field and unwillingness to push the ball forward makes the Merseyside outfit easy to defend against, for opposition teams sit back, absorb pressure and break on the counter.
It wasn't how we wanted to finish our final game at home in 2021, but thank you to our supporters who came in their numbers tonight and throughout this season.— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) December 15, 2021
We will see you at Walton Hall Park in the new year. pic.twitter.com/IjfQ2p9xFf
Take the league cup defeat to United. The Manchester club scored twice in three minutes. Despite ceding more than 60% of the ball to their opponents, the Red Devils made use of their chances in front of net.
For the first tally of the game, a Katie Zelem set piece ricocheted off of left back Danielle Turner and into the back of the net. 180 seconds later, Martha Thomas broke in on goal courtesy of a Zelem threaded ball through Everton’s defense. Thomas then placed the ball into the back of the net past Everton goalie Courtney Brosnan.
The club hired Vasseur to help steady the ship, but the results have been mixed for the Frenchman. Was he trying to keep the team fresh ahead of a Sunday morning fixture with third-place Tottenham? Maybe, but he nonetheless selected a talented starting XI against United.
In a season already full of disappointing losses, Wednesday’s seems particularly harsh because it was a winnable game. However, in his short time at Finch Farm, Vasseur has endeared himself to supporters with his positive attitude and short memory, which helps with the poor results.
“Anything is possible this year. If we can maintain the gap (on the teams above us) then when we improve and play with more confidence then we will have the option to close the gap.” @JeanlucVasseur pic.twitter.com/vGpf3VApQN— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) December 16, 2021
With his team playing at 9 a.m. EST/2 p.m. GMT away at Spurs, Vassuer will look to close the year on a positive note. Thankfully for the Blues, they are only six points behind Tottenham in third, so 2022 could still bring happiness to Merseyside.