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FA WSL Preview: Everton Women vs Arsenal | Toffees face tough test

Everton’s penultimate game comes against firing Arsenal

West Ham United Women v Everton Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League “n
Everton will need more from starting nine Valérie Gauvin against a sturdy Arsenal defense.
Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

Everton faces fellow WSL side Arsenal on Sunday, May 2nd at 8:00 a.m. EST/1:00 p.m. BST, with the game being played at Walton hall Park. The Blues have two remaining league fixtures to end the season, with games the Gunners (3rd) and Manchester United (4th). Heading into the final stretch of the season, Coach Willie Kirk claimed a goal of 15/15 points from the final five games, but last weekend’s tie with West Ham ruined that hope. And with two difficult fixtures up ahead, seven points from 15 is a realistic result.

Despite outclassing West Ham in every measurable category, the superior stat line did not translate to three points. It was a disappointing result for Kirk’s side, especially since it was a winnable game. The Blues failed to convert in front of net and relied on several fortunate bounces that kept the Hammers off the scoreboard.

In a recent interview with Everton TV, Kirk noted his desire to crack into the top four. “Next season we really want to be in and amongst them (the top clubs), and we want to upset that apple cart,” he said. “Sunday will be a good test, and it will give us another gauge of where we are and where we still need to develop.” Should the Toffees hope to enter the upper echelons of the WSL, they’ll need to take more than one point against lower-half teams, something they failed to do against West Ham United.

Two losses to Manchester City (2–1) and Chelsea (3–0) in February effectively cost Arsenal a shot at the title, but since those back-to-back losses, the Gunners have gone 6–0–0. During that span, the North London outfit has not conceded a goal and own a goal differential of plus-21 (that mark jumps to plus-31 when including a 10–0 thrashing of Gillingham in the FA Cup fourth round).

With two league matches to play — Everton then Aston Villa on the final weekend — Joe Montemurro’s squad should finish in third place, earning qualification to the 2022 Champions League competition. The Gunners also face Championship side Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fifth round on May 16.

The Merseyside outfit remains without Danielle Turner, who this past week had surgery on her calf, remedying an issue that has plagued her for two years. The rest of the starting XI is scripted at this point. Sandy MacIver will be in net, Megan Finnigan and Rikke Sevecke will lock it up on defense, Izzy Christiansen and Jill Scott will lurk in midfield and Valérie Gauvin should get the run up top.

Arsenal boasts one of the deepest squads in the league. Leah Williamson is the team’s undisputed leader on defense, Kim Little and Jordan Nobbs have forged an excellent partnership in the middle of the pitch and Vivianne Miedema — one of the best strikers in the world — is tied for the Golden Boot with 18 markers.

Last Meeting

The last time these two sides met was back on December 20, a match that Arsenal handily won, 4–0. The Toffees have the team to compete, but they will need to bring their A-game come Sunday should they pick up a result.

“We’ve had six tests in the league (against the top clubs this season), and I don’t think we’ve done ourselves justice,” Kirk said. “We go into test number seven on Sunday, and we need to take something from the game.”

Match Details

Competition: FA Women’s Super League

Date and start time: Sunday, May 2nd 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

TV & Radio: N/A

Match Center: evertontv

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