Everton Women return to WSL action this weekend with a trip to high-flying Arsenal but will be missing some key personnel for the trip to Hertfordshire.
Blues boss Brian Sorensen will be without Clare Wheeler, who is set for a week on the sidelines, while fellow midfielder Izzy Christiansen and defender Katrine Veje will both miss out through knee injuries.
Megan Finnigan has also fallen foul to a knee problem following the Blues’ Continental Cup win over Sheffield United.
Giovana ‘Gio’ Queiroz Costa will be absent due to her ineligibility to play against her parent club.
There is positive news on the injury front though, Nicoline Sorensen returns to the matchday squad after more than a year out, although a place in the starting XI is unlikely.
Sorensen still has choices, with Hanna Bennison pushing for a start following her scoring turn from the bench. Jess Park, who also found the net in midweek, should also retain her place.
It remains to be seen if a back three is the boss’ preferred formation, but the counterattack utilising wing backs may well be Everton’s most fruitful form of offence against Arsenal, with the hosts most likely to have the lion’s share of possession.
Sitting currently in eighth place in the WSL, it will again be a case of providing an answer to a question that has so far evaded the Toffees this season if they are to avoid defeat against Jonas Eidevall’s side and end a run of two successive league reversals, against Chelsea and Manchester City, respectively.
Should the Blues secure victory, it would be the first time since 2012 that they have claimed three consecutive wins away from home.
Everton are on a wretched run against the division’s top sides though, but Sorensen is hoping those defeats have taught his side valuable lessons they can take into tomorrow’s fixture at Meadow Park.
“On the day, we can play with them (Arsenal),” he said. “It is about what we learned from those games (against the top four sides) and how we take that learning into Arsenal.
“They will be big favourites and won’t want to lose points. They will be ready and have quality all over the pitch.”
Arsenal could well be a wounded animal going into tomorrow’s clash after the team’s unbeaten streak in the WSL was ended in dramatic fashion by Manchester United.
Sitting second in the table and three points behind leaders Chelsea, Eidevall will be desperate to get his side’s title charge back on track.
Frida Maanum and Beth Mead lead the Gunners’ scoring charts this season, and the latter will be a big miss for her club.
Leah Williamson, Rafaelle and Kim Little will also miss out, but there is more than enough quality in the team, with England midfielder Jordan Nobbs, one of the hosts’ key players.
Goals from Katie McCabe, Carlotte Wubben-Moy and Maanum gave Arsenal a comfortable 3-0 victory last season, a scoreline that the Gunners repeated at Walton Hall Park.
Form against the North Londoners makes for grim reading for Everton, the Toffees have lost the last 13 WSL games against Arsenal scoring six and conceding 36.
The last league point the Blues gained in this fixture came in a 2-2 home draw in August 2012 with Toni Duggan was amongst the scorers.
Sorensen and his team won’t be looking at the past though, and tomorrow at 2pm will be the latest chance they have to end a couple of hoodoos they remain determined to break.
Next Up For Everton
A busy few weeks are on the horizon for the Blues, who return to Continental Cup action with a trip to Manchester United, followed by two more away trips against Brighton and the rearranged fixture with Tottenham Hotspur.
The Blues will next be at Walton Hall Park when Sorensen’s side entertain Durham FC, completing a run of five games in 14 days, starting with the Arsenal fixture this coming Saturday.
For the full fixture list, click here.