A historic match ended in disappointment as Liverpool Women lost the first Women’s Merseyside Derby to be played at Anfield by a score of 0-1. Anke Preuss bungled a save and sent a shot from Everton’s Lucy Graham into the back of the net in the only goal the day would see. Liverpool fought hard and unfortunately weren’t able to get anything to show for all their efforts, but the day wasn’t without it’s merits. A record 23.5k fans came to Anfield to support the Women’s teams, despite ticket allocation problems.
For the historic occasion we took the opportunity to chat with our friend Rachel Rose Gold from Royal Blue Mersey about the rival squads and what’s gone so differently between them to end in a result like this — one that allows Everton to win at Anfield.
TLO: Sitting in 4th place is not a bad place to be in for Everton. How are you feeling about the season so far? How did you guys feel going into this match in particular, and the occasion of it?
RRG: Everton has already won 3 games, which is how many they won in all of last season, so I’m feeling GREAT! I’m so excited for this derby and wish I could be there. Everton’s star striker can’t play due to a red card suspension, so I think it could be a close game. With her, I think it could’ve been an easy win for Everton even with the home field advantage for Liverpool.
TLO: What do you think Everton is doing differently this year that’s helped them be more successful?
RRG: They made A LOT of changes over the preseason. They got a much better keeper, which is key. Their striker is actually scoring goals, which certainly helps!
TLO: Do the club seem more involved with their women’s team, post-World Cup?
RRG: Sigh. I have so many thoughts about this. I just read an interview with Manager Willie Kirk where he basically said that he has to keep asking for more things for the women’s team and he gets denied all the time and that they have one of the lowest budgets in the league. It’s really atrocious. We are talking about things like recovery services and laundry for their kits. The marketing for the team is light years behind other WSL teams as well and their new stadium is so delayed that they will not play in it for at least the first half of the season.
TLO: The difference between Everton and Liverpool this year is pretty stark - why do you think that is?
RRG: I’m shocked how bad Liverpool is this year and I’m shocked how good Everton is. I think it all started with the offseason. Everton changed half their squad. I believe Liverpool brought on 3 new players. Meanwhile, look at Chelsea bringing in Sam Kerr! The top teams have elite players.
TLO: There’s loads that Liverpool could be doing to help their women’s team be better and feel more supported. What could Everton be doing better to help them compete?
RRG: More resources! Hopefully Kirk continues to ask for more!
TLO: Do you think Goodison will get on board with hosting the next Merseyside Derby?
RRG: That’d be so cool but something tells me they won’t!
TLO: Where do the Blues go from here? Where can the Reds go, realistically?
RRG: I think the Blues can finish mid-table, which is a huge success for them! Reds aren’t gonna win anytime soon, unfortunately. They have a tough schedule ahead of them until the second half of the season. I hope they fight their way out of the relegation zone. The WSL benefits from having a strong Merseyside rivalry.
TLO: What are the goals for the season, and are they attainable?
RRG: [Manager] Willie Kirk wants them to eventually be in the Champions League. That would be great but they are gonna have to buy some more elite players for that, which means a higher budget.
Liverpool have a much longer way to go to catch up to even rivals like Everton, although it’s clear that neither club is perfect. But Rachel said, the WSL benefits from a strong Merseyside Derby and right now, it’s a bit lopsided. Liverpool will have to make some serious changes to catch up, or even get out of the relegation zone, if they want to maintain their position as one of the powerhouse clubs in England.