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FA WSL Preview: Everton vs Birmingham City | Toffees host City in first league meeting of the season

Everton look to bounce back against Birmingham after poor showing versus United last weekend 

Everton Women v Manchester United Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus

Everton Women face fellow WSL side Birmingham City on Sunday, February 7th at 9:00 a.m. ET/2:00 p.m. GMT, with the game being played at Walton Hall Park. This match will be contested after two prior postponements — the sides were originally scheduled to meet on December 13th, which was pushed to January 20th, only to be moved once more. The WSL announced on January 28th that the twice-postponed match was set for March 11th.

Following a disappointing 2–0 defeat to Manchester United last Sunday, Everton Manager Willie Kirk had strong words for his team ahead of a game that will test their resolve and spirit.

“We have to win [on Sunday],” he said. “The gap to the top four is bigger than I would have wanted. If you look at the set of games that are coming up over the next couple of weeks, that gap could be closed very quickly. But we need to make sure we look after our own business.”

Everton currently sit in fifth place with 17 points and 11 games played. Their 5–2–4 record puts them six points behind Arsenal, 10 behind Manchester City and 15 off Manchester United and Chelsea. In the next two weeks, the Toffees will meet four teams in the league: Birmingham twice, Reading and Man City, with the Manchester outfit being the only team ahead in the table. If Everton are to “close the gap,” it will start with a win against Birmingham on Sunday.

Since returning from the Christmas break, Everton are 1–0–1, with a 4–0 win against Bristol and the aforementioned loss to United. For all the inconsistencies Everton have faced this season, the team is beginning to get healthy again after an outbreak of injuries shelved several key players.

“The squad’s in a really good place,” Kirk said. “The players that have come back from injury are all pushing for starts.”

Birmingham also have played twice in the new year, drawing scoreless at home to Brighton & Hove Albion and falling to United, 2–0. The Blues have played 10 games and earned ten points, a tally that Manager Carla Ward will be looking to improve in the second half of the season. And while Birmingham’s defense has been effective — they have conceded only 15 times — they have struggled to put the ball in the net, scoring a meager nine goals.

After bolstering his team’s depth in the January transfer window, Kirk has a bevy of talent with which to work when picking a starting XI, including Sandy MacIver in net, Rikke Sevecke on defense, Jill Scott and Izzy Christiansen in midfield and Valérie Gauvin up top. Also of note is Gabby George’s imminent return to top-flight football after an ACL tear a year ago.

Birmingham feature a crew of former Evertonians: Lucy Whipp, Georgia Brougham (currently on loan and therefore ineligible to play against Everton), Mollie Green and Claudia Walker. City rely on sturdy play from England goalkeeper Hannah Hampton and run their midfield through captain Christie Murray. Despite conceding the fewest goal of any team outside the top four, Birmingham lost fulcrum Rachel Corsie, whose play at center-back was vital to an impressive defensive unit — Corsie’s loan spell with City ended, and she returned to her parent club, Kansas City NWSL.

Last Meeting

These two sides last met on September 30th in the FA Cup Semifinal — the penultimate stage of the cup competition ended in a 3–0 Everton win. On a soggy night in the West Midlands, Everton looked poised for a majority of the game but allowed Birmingham to break on the counter too often. With an experienced group of core players and outstanding defensive play, Birmingham have the talent to compete with any team in the Super League, and Sunday’s outing won’t deviate from that script.

Match Details

Competition: FA Women’s Super League

Date and start time: Sunday, February 7th at 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. GMT

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

Capacity: 2,200 (behind closed doors)

How to Watch/Listen

TV & Radio: N/A

Match Center: evertontv

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

Lineups TBA