Liverpool announced their return to the WSL in a HUGE way. The Reds had the tough task of taking on the three-time reigning WSL champions, and made a tough task seemingly impossible by conceding a penalty in the first three minutes of the game. Liverpool weathered the storm throughout the rest of the first half, and Matt Beard’s side look much more assured in the second half. The Reds never backed down, and earned and converted two of their own penalties in the second half for a massive win to start the season off.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
Katie StenGOAL: The American striker didn’t see much of the ball in the first half, but she made her presence known in the second. She coolly converted two penalty kicks, the second of which she earned herself with a fantastic run. After scoring 8 and assisting 5 in just half a season last year, Stengel seems primed to make the most of her chances in the WSL.
Megan Campbell: The Irishwoman is and agent of chaos whenever Liverpool earn a throw in past the halfway line. Coming on as a substitute in the second half, Campbell caused havoc in the box with her first long throw, ultimately ending in Liverpool’s first penalty kick to tie the game up. She had several more throws into the box that created massive scrambles.
Limiting The Champs: Chelsea have an insane amount of firepower, lead by Ballon D’Or finalist Sam Kerr. While Chelsea put a lot of pressure on Liverpool, especially in the first half, the Reds did a solid job defensively of limiting shooting opportunities. In the end, Chelsea had 10 shots on the day, the fewest they have had across 65 matches tracked on FBRef, according to Andrew Beasley. It wasn’t always pretty, and there were more than a few heart-in-mouth moments, but Liverpool by and large were able to get bodies in the way to limit or block out shooting opportunities.
Chelsea averaged nearly 20 shots per game in the WSL last season. pic.twitter.com/rQs96A7wn5— Andrew Beasley (@BassTunedToRed) September 18, 2022
Crowd Support: The announced crowd of 3,006 people is a club record at Prenton Park. The supporters on hand made themselves heard, making for a fantastic atmosphere. Let’s hope that the level of support continues!
Early Season Injuries: If you asked most any Liverpool fan which players they were most excited about watching, Shanice van de Sanden and Leanne Kiernan would almost definitely be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, van de Sanden missed out on the first match with what Matt Beard described as an achilles issue. Leanne Kiernan sustained and ankle injury in the second half, and looks like she could be set for a lengthy spell on the sideline. While we hope neither injury is serious, it seems that Matt Beard is going to have the depth of this team tested early on.
Dissecting the Narrative: Ahead of the match, we all knew Liverpool were back, but how back where they? Were they back and really ready to compete against the best? Matt Beard’s side emphatically announced that WE ARE BACK!
What Happens Next
Liverpool have another exciting match up next weekend, hosting Everton at Anfield. The Reds will look to continue their momentum against their local rivals in front of what will hopefully be a fantastic crowd.