The Reds are in a better place this time around, feeling more confident in their place in the league and buoyed by their last win against Tottenham. The Reds have long been in good form, even if results haven’t always done their performances justice this season.
For Gemma Bonner, a lifelong Red, the game is an exciting opportunity: she watched the last derby from California. She spoke to Liverpoolfc.com ahead of Friday’s kickoff, which will be screened live on Sky Sports in the UK, and will be available on Paramount+ in the United States, with kickoff at 8:30PM GMT/3:30PM EST.
Speaking Friday morning ahead of the evening match, Bonner emphasized their positive mindset ahead of kickoff — and the derby feeling:
We are really excited and I think it’s a game that everyone looks forward to. Obviously with the game being at Goodison Park it makes it that little bit more special but for us it’s a game we approach like no other because we know how much pride comes with wearing the Liverpool shirt, so we’ll be going all out to do all we can to make sure we come out with the result.
There’s just a natural buzz around the group and all the media surrounding this big game. They are expecting a big crowd and for us that’s great, but we’ve also got to concentrate on playing. I think the past couple of games we’ve done well with our performances, so it’s about building on that to make sure that we’ll be ready to put in another good performance.
Bonner also noted the occasion, speaking on the importance of staging the women’s game on television and in major grounds:
As a player you want to be playing at the biggest stadiums and in front of the biggest crowds and we’ve got an opportunity to do that. I know the girls were disappointed with how the game went at Anfield earlier on in the season but I think we’ve worked really hard as a group and we’ve really progressed. Every player that has come into the club in January has settled in really well, we are looking strong as a group and I think we’ve also got a few players back from injury going into this game. The group is feeling good and hopefully we can go and enjoy it but most importantly get the win.
The heavy loss at Anfield was unavoidable, but Bonner hopes she and her teammates can put it right tonight:
Naturally when you lose a game you are disappointed and with it being a derby the emotions are that little bit higher, so we know what is at stake. Being a Liverpool player playing against Everton, everyone is aware of the rivalry. I think it’s important we concentrate on what we do well as a group because we have been performing well in games and played some brilliant football, especially the Tottenham game. It’s about building on that and also working on the areas we need to.
For Bonner, specifically, this match is a massive opportunity, as she was not involved in the aforementioned 3-0 defeat:
I remember when the girls played at Anfield and I was watching from America wishing I was kind of out there with them. But to be back and have the opportunity to represent Liverpool again in a derby, I’m really looking forward to it and I’m sure we will be ready.
Despite the positive mindset, Bonner is realistic about the challenges put forth by this Everton side:
With derbies you can’t really look too much into the recent history and the run of form. First and foremost, you have to win the battle and the right to play. Obviously they’ve got a lot of young players, a lot of exciting players and they’ve got a few internationals too, so I think they are a well-balanced team. They can play a few different formations like we can as well, so we will be prepared, we have worked hard on the training pitch, so we’ll be ready for what they throw at us and I think from what we’ve got in our group we can cause them a lot of problems.
Despite the challenge ahead of them, Bonner appreciates the confidence boost provided by their last performance, which saw them win against Tottenham:
For us, it was a huge result. We quietly knew there was a bit of pressure on that game and for us to go out and start the game as we did in that pressure situation I think shows how far this group has come. You could definitely see the confidence we’ve got playing the free-flowing football and we were disappointed we didn’t score more goals. In the second half we had to show a different side to us and we ground out the result in the end because Spurs put us under a lot of pressure.
We’ve got to take a lot of confidence from that game, and again, it was a huge pressure situation which ultimately [the derby] will be too with the home crowd behind Everton. We know our fans will be with us as well and I say it every week, our fans are the best, they are unbelievable the support they give for us every single week, home and away. For us to have them at Goodison supporting us will mean so much to us. We are aware of that and what this game means for the fans and I’m sure every single player is going to give everything they can to represent the fans, the club and the city as best as we can.