Things haven’t started off as well as the most optimistic of us would hope for the Liverpool Women. The Reds suffered their second loss in as many matches this Sunday when they met up with Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in history. While things started off well, with Liverpool handling most of the possession and able to keep Tottenham at bay until the last gasp of the first half when they scored from a penalty. Things went off the rails towards the end when Niamh Fahey was sent off with a straight red card for pulling down Rosella Ayane by her shirt in a 1v1.
Academy graduate Niamh Charles spoke to the club website ahead of the Spurs match up, full of optimism that maybe could be shared with this writer.
“We’re really looking forward to it. They’re a new team and did well last week against Chelsea [a 1-0 defeat],” said Charles.
“Across the WSL, the competitiveness of the league showed in the scorelines. There’s no easy games, we’ll be going there hoping to put some points on the board but you’ve got to work for everything this season.”
The FA WSL is definitely going to be more competitive this year, with Arsenal the reigning champions and clubs like Tottenham and Manchester United making their first appearances in the top flight of Women’s football. Liverpool have loads of competition, not only from the other big six clubs but from the lower table teams, considering the trouble that Reading gave them last weekend. Charles herself believes that the preseason gave her and the rest of the team enough of a chance to get into the right frame for the season - especially considering her chance to come back from a harrowing injury.
“I came back at the end of last year but just to get a bit of game time. So it was nice to put in the foundations of a long pre-season, which is the first I’ve ever had properly as I’ve been in and out before,” added Charles.
“I feel good now. I’ve been working hard in the off-season, so hopefully that will count as the season goes on.”
While the loss against Reading last week was disappointing, it was the goal that they conceded from Fara Williams that was maybe most so for Charles. Otherwise, there were plenty of good things to take from the performance and that the women brought to the match against Tottenham, including keeping the pressure on and defending set pieces well (well, better than that free kick but no one could save that free kick from Queen Fara).
“We put a lot of emphasis on set-pieces, it’s something we pride ourselves on defensively not conceding from, so it was frustrating to concede from one. But we’ll keep putting the time in because they’re so pivotal,” continued Charles.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to come away with no points, especially on the first day of the season. But when you take away the result, the performance overall definitely showed that pre-season had made a difference.
“The biggest thing was getting the three points and we didn’t get that. But looking ahead for the season, there were a lot of positives we can take from that game to build on.
“It was nice to see that we were creating problems for them, not just minimising the problems they were giving us.
“It’s nice to see the things we worked on in pre-season – being more dangerous in attack – being shown in games. Obviously we didn’t put the chances away but that’s something we’ll be looking to do, starting this week.”
Now all preparations turn to Manchester United next weekend, and hopefully finding a way to finish those chances and get something, anything into the net. And maybe not get a straight red card this time.