Now that was a BIG win! Not by score line, though the Liverpool FC Women certainly had more than a few opportunities to break the game wide open, but the importance of the win likely can’t be overstated. The Reds should be all but assured safety from relegation after they came from behind to secure the win.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
It should be no secret that I have been frustrated by Liverpool’s penchant to play the first half like they are sleep walking. Against Spurs, however, the Reds came out with a fire lit under them. Matt Beard’s side looked sharp from the opening whistle, moving the ball smartly and generating opportunity after opportunity in the early going. Sure, they conceded first against the run of play, but there seemed to be no doubt from the players or the fans that Liverpool would net on the day.
The American forward was yet again a handful on the day, using her physicality and surprisingly good turn of pace and balance to dominate defenders. Stengel had the beating of Amy Turner, forcing the defender to take a yellow card trying to wrestle her to the ground. Stengel also had much more support than we have typically seen early in the match, and she combined well with the other attackers around her. The only thing she didn’t do was bury her golden opportunity deep into stoppage time that would have killed the game off.
Early in the season, Liverpool struggled to gain any control over the midfield area. A change in formation and the introduction of Fuka Nagano saw the Reds start to have more influence in the center of the pitch. Against Spurs, the midfield three of Nagano, Ceri Holland, and Missy Bo Kearns were magnificent. Nagano controlled the tempo with her ability to read the game and her intelligent passing. She played two sensational passes to Emma Koivisto that led to goals. The first from deep to find the Finn’s feet, and the second a slick ball after receiving the ball herself to find the run of Koivisto, who then cut it back for Kearns.
Speaking of Kearns, the Scouser certainly made her mark on the day. She showed a great engine getting up and down the pitch to get involved in the attack, always popping up in and around the box. She almost had an incidental assist early in the match after her initial shot was blocked, and then popped up again in the penalty area to finish off a fantastic team move for Liverpool’s second goal.
THIS GAME @bokearnsxxx slots home in style #BarclaysWSL @LiverpoolFCW pic.twitter.com/jWSOcxzc4W— Barclays Women's Super League (@BarclaysWSL) March 12, 2023
Ceri Holland also put in her usual solid shift. The Welshwoman came within inches of opening the scoring just a few minutes into the match, lashing a shot that went just wide of the far post. She also won seemingly every second ball coming back out of the Spurs box to help maintain possession, and had several big clearances from within her own box.
70% of the earth is covered by water...— Liverpool FC Women (@LiverpoolFCW) March 12, 2023
The rest is covered by Ceri Holland pic.twitter.com/n675kombsu
The Finn has become one of Liverpool’s most important players this season. The right wing back leapt into the attack time and time again. She popped up at the top of the box to score Liverpool’s first goal, albeit thanks to a fortuitous deflection.
Instant response from @LiverpoolFCW! @emma_koivisto deflected effort flies into the Spurs net! #BarclaysWSL pic.twitter.com/HPmg22wiYU— Barclays Women's Super League (@BarclaysWSL) March 12, 2023
There was no accident about the run she made in the box to bamboozle her defender or the cut back pass to Missy Bo Kearns to set up the Reds’ second goal.
For the second match in a row, Matt Beard was unable to fill out his substitutes bench due to the large list of injuries. He did get Razza Roberts back from concussion, but the likes of Niamh Fahey, Jasmine Matthews, Melissa Lawley, and Natasha Dowie missed out for the second match in a row. That’s on top of both Leanne Kiernan unlikely to feature again this season and Shanice van de Sanden still being at least a couple of weeks away from returning. That’s a lot of firepower missing.
Dissecting the Narrative
With seven matches left to play in the league, Liverpool have all but assured themselves they are safe from relegation with the win over Spurs. Matt Beard’s side are 8th in the table with 14 points, sitting 7 points above 12th place Leicester City. Liverpool still have two teams behind them in the table left to play, as well as West Ham, who only sit two points above the Reds in seventh place. Liverpool also have a game in hand over the Hammers, making a midtable finish a realistic hope at this point.
What Happens Next
For the second time this season, Liverpool and Everton will meet up in a Premier League stadium. This time, the Reds will cross to the other side of Stanley Park to take on Everton in Goodison Park on Friday evening. Liverpool were thrashed 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Anfield in the second match of the season. Let’s hope Matt Beard’s side can return the favor this time around.