It’s been a long break for the Women’s team but Liverpool Women are finally back in action this weekend when they travel to face Manchester United on Sunday. After a well earned break, the Women have even been hard at work training and making some signings during the January window.
All these preparations also means the return of Matt Beard’s column, the first of the new year. Beard writes about where the Women’s team sit, the new signings and the joy of a returning legend, and how to prepare for the weekend’s opposition.
“We had a good break and it was nice to have a bit more of a longer break, but we were back in training for a few days between Christmas and New Year and then had a full week back,” Beard began.
“We are slowly but surely getting there and we are looking forward to what the next five months holds.
“It’s been a great start to the year for us with two new signings, including a familiar face coming back to the club. We brought Gemma Bonner back as it was too good an opportunity to pass up with her experience. She is also a Liverpool fan and a leader.
“She went to Manchester City and played in the USA, and I think it speaks volumes that she was made captain of Racing Louisville last year. Even in the short time she has been back in with us, you can just see the leadership she is going to bring to the club and her experience. I am delighted that she is back.
“On Tuesday, we also confirmed another new signing in midfielder Sofie Lundgaard. We are really pleased to get Sofie in. She has got good experience playing in the Champions League and the Danish League. She will bring a bit of athleticism into our midfield with the way she can get around the pitch too.
“We understand she is young and it will probably take a bit of time for her to bed in, but we are really excited with this signing and what she can bring this season and future.”
The return of Gemma Bonner revealed itself to be a prescient one, as just Thursday defender Gilly Flaherty announced her retirement with immediate effect. Now she just might make her return in a red shirt against Manchester United on Sunday. United will be a tough test, but even in the run up to the holiday break the women showed that there’s still quality there.
“On Sunday we resume our WSL programme with a trip to Manchester United, who have been flying this season – manager Marc Skinner has done a great job there,” Beard continued.
“It’s a tough start back for us but, as I’ve said before, there are no easy games in this division and we are looking forward to the game.
“We feel going into the Christmas break we were in good form. We know it’s taken us a little bit of time to adjust back into this league, but we are getting there and this is a great test for us on Sunday. It’s one we are really looking forward to.
“We did a review of our statistical data over the break so far this season and we spoke about it with the players. We haven’t been a million miles away from the top teams; we’re talking maybe 20 more passes and maybe six per cent less possession. Our biggest issue throughout the first half of the season has been converting the chances we’ve been creating.
“If we had converted those chances, it would have been a completely different story for us. So, we’ve competed with every team we’ve played this season.
“We know we are a tough team to break down and know we have got a lot of talent and athleticism in the team. Everyone that has played us has known that they have been in a game. We just want to take that belief into this next run.”
No one ever said that this season in the FA WSL would be difficult, even after the victories of last season, but the struggles do show the distance in quality between the leagues and clubs. Beard even mentioned the highly anticipated return of Leanne Kiernan in the next month, which should help with the goal scoring woes.
“We appreciate and understand the quality of the teams we will be playing – but we want to do as well as we can, we want to win every game and we will be setting up to do that. Hopefully for us that will be enough,” the manager added.
“On the injury front, Leanne Kiernan is still on course for a February return. We haven’t had any setbacks but with the type of injury it was we need to be careful and take it week by week.
“She is progressing well, she was at St George’s Park last week, which was great for her, and she did a bit of running.
“So, it’s another step in the right direction, and when we get her back that is going to be like another new signing for us.
“Thank you for your continued support as always.”
The Women play on Sunday at 2:05pm BST/9:05am EST on Paramount+ in the States and BBC in the UK.