Taking on and undefeated Arsenal side that just beat the reigning UCL champions Lyon 5-1 was always going to be a massive undertaking for Liverpool. Rather than the timid, unsure side we’ve seen to start matches thus far, Liverpool actually came out quite brightly. The Reds just got plain beaten in key moments by a team filled with very, very good players.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
In her 50th league appearance for Liverpool, the goalkeeper came up with some massive saves to keep her side from getting blow out. Laws was quick off her line several times to deny the likes of Beth Mead in 1v1 situations, which is no easy task.
The Irishwoman is best known for the mayhem created off of her long throw ins, but she did a very good job today with the ball at her feet. Several times on the day she showed some nifty footwork on the touch line to beat a defender and drive forward with the ball before playing some tantalizing crosses into the box. She also did a pretty solid job with positional defending on the left, limiting the easy opportunities for Arsenal on her side.
The American striker battled her heart out all game long. Starved of any sort of consistent service as the point striker, she dropped deeper at times to provide an outlet to help the Reds get the ball out of their own half. She earned quite a few free kicks with her strong hold up play. She also never stopped making the runs to try and get into advanced positions to receive the ball when possible, and threw her body around in the box to try and create opportunities despite often being outnumbered by defenders.
For the third time in three home games, Liverpool supporters have shown up in droves to break an attendance record. Against Arsenal, Liverpool set the attendance record at Prenton Park, breaking the record set on the opening day match against Chelsea. The supporters were in great voice, especially in the second half, driving their team on.
An attendance of 3,348 inside Prenton Park today.— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) October 23, 2022
A new record for us here! Thank you for your incredible support ❤ pic.twitter.com/pFXHBinJZc
No Goals, Just Vibes:
While it was a much more positive performance from Liverpool, the Reds failed to score for the third time in four league games. And for the fourth time in four games, Liverpool failed to register a shot in the first half, despite getting the ball into the box a decent amount against Arsenal. The second half, yet again, was better offensively, with the team registering all seven of their shots in the second stanza, but really only had one clean look at net.
Professionalism in the Commentators Booth:
As we’ve seen time and time again, Women’s sports not only get less coverage, the coverage given is often lacking in quality and professionalism from the major broadcasters. For the match against Arsenal, the commentator spent the entire first half calling Yana Daniels by the name of Taylor Hinds. It wasn’t a mix up, however, as he also called Taylor Hinds by her own name. The two players, besides looking nothing alike, were lined up on opposite sides of the field. In the second half, the commentator also spent some time talking about Liverpool manager “Michael” Beard (his name is Matt). Mix ups happen, even to the best of professionals, I get that. This commentator, however, made so many errors so often it was obvious he had not done his homework.
Matt Beard’s side has struggled to create big chances this season. While they were better at moving the ball against Arsenal, Liverpool really are missing the speed of Shanice van de Sanden and Leanne Kiernan to stretch teams vertically to create space for the second and third runners through midfield. Melissa Lawley and Yana Daniels are more quick than rapid, and Katie Stengel is more of a physical presence rather than a burner up top despite trying to make the runs. With the lack of pure speed to threaten teams, defenses have been able to squeeze up and compress the field against Liverpool as we saw against Arsenal. Even when Liverpool managed to move the ball forward, it was typically at a pace that allowed the Arsenal defenders to recover, meaning crosses came in to a packed box. Thankfully, Shanice van de Sanden is likely to return in a week or two, which should help.
What Happens Next
Liverpool are back in action against fellow WSL strugglers, and former FA Women’s Championship foes, Leicester City in a Continental League Cup group stage match on Wednesday. The two teams are currently joint top of the group with a win a piece, though Manchester City has yet to play a group stage match yet.
The Reds will then take the short trip up the road to take on a surging Manchester City next Sunday to close out a very tough run of fixtures in October. Bunny Shaw has been on a tear for City, scoring four goals over the last two games to lead the team to back to back wins.