The Liverpool FC Women came back from the international break off the back of a 4-0 win over Brighton and the chance to stay in the hunt for a European spot in the table facing newcomers Bristol City. With Bristol City starting the weekend at the bottom of the table, Liverpool would have fancied themselves a good bet to take all three points. Instead, Bristol City made life difficult for the Reds ,who never really got out of second gear. In the end it was a draw that felt like a win for Bristol City and a loss for Liverpool.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
The Liverpool captain was very involved in the attack as Bristol City clogged the middle of the pitch. Hinds was on the ball frequently in the attacking half, and had 11 passes into the final third, 5 more than the next Liverpool players. She put a pinpoint cross onto the head of Sophie Roman Haug for Liverpool’s goal. While Hinds was aggressive with the ball, she was also efficient, completing 83% of her passes.
Sophie Roman Haug
The Norwegian striker is showing the goal threat that Matt Beard was so excited about when Roman Haug was signed this summer. Her headed goal against Bristol City was her second goal in the last two WSL matches, and she now has three goals and two assists in the last four league matches. She doesn’t get involved in the build up like Katie Stengel did, but Sophie Roman Haug is showing she can be a force in front of goal.
The towering defender was fantastic against Bristol City. She used her height to good effect, winning 11 aerial duals on both ends of the pitch. The next highest on either team was 3. She was also composed on the ball, completing more passes than anyone on the day. She was 4 of 8 for on long balls as she did a nice job of getting the attack going from the back as Bristol City as they clogged the midfield areas.
Prenton Park Winning Streak
While Liverpool are still unbeaten in their regular home stadium, the Reds dropped points at Prenton Park for the first time this season.
Keeping up with the (Mancunian) Jonses
Matt Beard has made it clear that his goal is to be in contention for a spot in European competition at the end of the season. It’s a lofty goal, but the Reds came into the weekend a point behind Manchester United in fourth and two points behind Manchester City in third. City got a late win to go four points ahead of the Reds and United winning big to go three points ahead, the draw with Bristol City leaves an even more sour taste in the mouth of Liverpool.
Bristol City rolled out a 3-5-2 formation to match Matt Beard’s preferred tactics. What ensued was a midfield clogged with bodies. With limited space for the driving runs of Ceri Holland and Marie Höbinger, Liverpool were forced into attacking from wider positions. This dragged Shanice van de Sanden wide as well when attempting to run the channels, leaving Sophie Roman Haug isolated against multiple defenders in the middle.
After Bristol City scored, Beard brought on Melissa Lawley for Emma Koivisto and switched to a 4-3-3 with Lawley and van de Sanden flanking Roman Haug. The switch in formation gave better spacing, which allowed the Liverpool attackers to pull the center backs out of shape more frequently. Liverpool were able to exploit the space much better and had much better angles for the final balls into the box.
What Happens Next
Liverpool will travel across town on Wednesday to take on Everton in a dead rubber match between the bottom two squads of Group B in the FA WSL Cup. The Reds will then head to Manchester next Sunday for their final match of the calendar year in a big match up with Manchester United in an attempt to keep up for a European spot.