After a tumultuous first season in the FA Women’s Championship, where Liverpool finished well adrift of first place Leicester City, the Reds brass seemed to finally decide to put at least a modicum of effort into the Women’s side to make a push for promotion. In came previous title-winning boss Matt Beard, along with a bevy of new (and old) faces that had experience at the top level. There was on goal for the season — get the sole promotion spot. With half of the games in the league now played, let’s take a look at where things stand.
First Half Recap
It was a bit of a slow start for Liverpool, going 1-1-1 in their first three matches as Matt Beard worked to get his system implemented. Since that point, Liverpool have been unbeaten in their next eight games, winning seven.
Liverpool’s hot run of form coincided with a switch to a 3-4-3 system that pushes the wing back high up the pitch to receive diagonal balls out of the back. It also has proven to stretch the shape of opposing midfields and defenses, creating creases for Liverpool to exploit with sharp passes through the middle. The change saw an explosion on the offensive side of the ball, scoring 19 goals in the league 8 games since switching formations. Leanne Kiernan has been at the center of Liverpool’s offensive resurgence, scoring 10 goals during that stretch.
The incredible run has seen Liverpool rocket from eight in the table after the first three games to leading the league by five points at the halfway point. With only one team getting promoted, and only 22 games played in the season, having any sort of cushion at the top is massive.
Beyond the league, Liverpool have also started out very well in the cup competitions. Beard has been able to rely on the surprising depth the squad finally has to come out on top of their group in the Continental Tyres FA WSL Cup while resting a lot of the regulars. The team advanced to the quarterfinals to take on WSL side Tottenham. Liverpool also won their opening match of the FA Women’s Cup over Burnley.
By The Numbers
Player statistics compiled by hand by yours truly unless otherwise noted
*Statistics from footystats.org
- Both Jasmine Matthews and Taylor Hinds have played every single minute of the 910 played in the league thus far.
- Liverpool have had 6 players feature in every league match this season. Along with Matthews and Hinds, the others are Leighanne Robe, Ceri Holland, Leanne Kiernan, and Melissa Lawley.
- Liverpool have scored 22 goals in the 11 matches played, averaging 2 goals a game. That’s just over their 1.74* expected goals per game.
- Liverpool are the only team in their league with a double digit goal differential (+17), with the next closest being Bristol at +8.
- According to Footystats, Liverpool are averaging 7.5 shots on target out of their 15.6 shots per game
The Golden Touch
- Leanne Kiernan leads the league with 10 goals so far this season
- Besides Kiernan, 9 other players have scored for Liverpool in the league this season, with no one of the others scoring more than 2 goals. The other players are Taylor Hinds (2), Rachel Furness (2), Rianna Dean (2), Charlotte Wardlaw (1), Niamh Fahey (1), Missy Bo Kearns (1), Melissa Lawley (1), and Ashley Hodson (1)
Can I Assist You?
- Melissa Lawley leads the team with 5 assists, followed by Rachel Furness with 4
- Rachel Furness has only played a little over 400 minutes for the season, but she has logged 2 goals and 4 assists, averaging 1.33 goals or assists per 90 minutes.
None Shall Pass
- Liverpool have only conceded 5 goals in 11 league matches, keeping clean sheets in 7 games
Player Of The First Half Season
Matt Beard has this Liverpool side humming, with so many players contributing both on and off the ball. That being said, it’s hard to look past the offensive output of Leanne Kiernan. The Irishwoman has shown a propensity to get into the right spot at the right time for easy finishes. She’s also shown that she has the occasional world class strike in her locker as well, most recently unleashing a rocket to the far post from the top of the box against Blackburn.
While the plaudits for Kiernan will rightly focus on her goal scoring exploits, she has gotten herself on the scoresheet through tireless running, always willing to stretch the defense in behind, or to pressure a defender or keeper if she loses out on a through ball.
A Look Ahead
Liverpool have entered their busiest stretch of the season, scheduled to play five games in the month of January. After drubbing Blackburn 6-0, Matt Beard’s side will have two more league matches, as well as the aforementioned FA WSL Cup quarterfinal match up with Tottenham, and the FA Women’s Cup 5th round match with non-league Lincoln City.
With his side currently in the drivers seat for promotion, Matt Beard will look to keep his squad rolling. Already boasting the deepest squad in the league by some margin, Liverpool just added an additional striker option in Katie Stengel in a bid to ensure the team stays among the goals should something happen to Leanne Kiernan.