That was not a pleasant watch. The Liverpool Women lost their first Merseyside Derby in two years, at Anfield, after giving away three goals to Everton. While the 27k+ attendees were nice, it was a struggle to watch the Reds fight to keep up against the Blues from down the road. Two of those goals came in the first half, and could’ve been easily defended had anyone on the back line been paying attention. A loss is a loss, but an early loss is slightly better, at least, as it can help the team learn for the season ahead.
Dissecting the Narrative
Truly ahead of this match, the narrative was on Liverpool’s side. Home match at Anfield, off the back of an upset of a win against last year’s champions Chelsea, the first Merseyside Derby in two years! Everton apparently sold out their supporters section! Even with the loss of Leanne Kiernan through injury, and Shanice van de Sanden unavailable, optimism reigned supreme. Even knowing that yes, this league is objectively tougher than the one we just came from, going mostly undefeated back there has to mean something.
Then the whistle blew and the Reds started too slowly, allowed too many mistakes. Everton went up 0-2 in the first half, the Liverpool defense unfortunately asleep for most of the match. As fans, you know losses come eventually, and maybe coming this early is a good thing, but it is never fun to lose to Everton - especially at Anfield.
Giving Credit to the Opponent
Honestly, it’s easy for Liverpool fans to discredit Everton because their men’s team gives them a bad reputation. Unfortunately for us the Women’s team is actually really good. They outplayed us in most every way today and rose to the occasion of playing at Anfield. They certainly remembered the last time they were there and took all of the points, and were ready to do the same today. Our squad... was not.
All three goals came from more present and concentrated players than ours. Their build up play was simply more coherent and they were able to exploit every space they were given. The way Gio came out of seemingly nowhere to steal the ball off of Meg Campbell to set up the third goal was probably the play of the match and there was no way Niamh Fahey was going to make it back in time to stop anything.
What Happens Next
With that first loss out of the way, it was only the second match of the season for the Reds. A little more troubling is the fact that Liverpool went most of the match without a shot on goal, with most chances wasted going wide or over the crossbar. Thankfully, there is a week before their next match against Sunderland in the Continental League Cup, and then Spurs a week after that. While Kiernan won’t be back for some time, that should be enough time to get van de Sanden back into the game, and maybe bring some goals with her.
The run into the league is going to be tough, with Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester City all one after the other. This is what we wanted, to be back in the FA WSL playing against these legacy teams, as we should be.
It’s hard not to feel discouraged by what the Reds showed today, though.