Liverpool managed to claw a vital point in their latest Women’s Super League match against Brighton on Sunday.
It was a thrilling six-goal affair, with both sides netting three each to share the spoils after a hard-fought result for each side.
However, this hasn’t been the whole narrative of Liverpool’s returning season in the WSL.
On November 6th, the Reds slumped to their fifth straight loss of the season. Another stale performance in a game which fans felt they could have gotten points on the board to spark some sort of run of form.
After one win, one draw and five defeats, Liverpool find themselves sitting tenth in the table, ahead of Reading and Leicester.
How have the Reds found themselves in this position early in a Women’s Super League season which many had tipped them to be a surprise package?Embed from Getty Images
From Championship winners to the WSL
Last season, the Merseyside outfit all but blitzed their way to promotion.
Matt Beard’s side tore apart defences around the league with brilliant attacking displays and defensive solidity. They finished 11 points clear of runners-up London City with an impressive goal difference of 38.
However, their stunning title-winning run wasn’t always the case. Liverpool had to go through a dismal 2020/21 season by their standards before they earned their return to the top flight.
When Beard took over in May 2021, the Reds had managed to finish third in the Championship. The objectives were clear-cut for him the moment he set foot back at the club for his second stint — gain promotion to the WSL.Embed from Getty Images
After a couple of new signings, the team looked refreshed. A loss, a draw and a win in the first three games, and it might have felt as if the Reds were in for another lacklustre season. But the wins then started coming with consistency and the belief among the players grew.
Having Leanne Kiernan up top was key in Liverpool’s fight for promotion. During the winter transfer window, Beard recruited American veteran Katie Stengel with whom they spent time together at Boston Breakers across the pond.
The investment paid off massively with the striker finding the back of the net eight times in 12 appearances. This coupled with Kiernan’s 13 in 22 games, Beard got his side back into the WSL.
Liverpool in the Women’s Super League so far
After an opening day comeback win over Chelsea, things looked promising for Liverpool. A shaky start to the game saw Liverpool go down within three minutes as Fran Kirby converted her spot-kick.
However, Chelsea’s fortunes in front of goal waned as they missed chances in the final third to stump their authority. In the second half, Stengel equalised for Liverpool in the 67th minute with one penalty.
She then found the back of the net with three minutes of regulation remaining thanks to the third penalty of the match.Embed from Getty Images
A magnificent return to the league. An impressive defensive showing against some of the world’s finest attackers should have set Beard’s charges on their way.
This wasn’t the case however as they went on to drop points against Everton at Anfield. A toothless performance in front of their own fans and the joys of the previous week’s big win faded into the Merseyside horizon.
That loss was followed up with defeats to Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Aston Villa seeing the reds drop to tenth on the table. It is important to put some context behind these losses.
Bar Everton and Aston Villa, every other opponent Liverpool have faced this season finished the previous season in the top five. And the performances haven’t been too bad on Liverpool’s part.
Against Man City, a good defensive showing was only undone by Hayley Raso’s 75th minute winner. Against Villa, Liverpool were on course to gain a point away from home but Rachel Daly’s penalty in the second half secured the win for the hosts.Embed from Getty Images
Goal drought and injuries
As it stands, only Stengel has scored for the Merseyside club with three goals. The loss of Kiernan in the first game to a bad ankle injury has not helped Beard’s cause.
Adding salt to injury, summer returnee Shanice van de Sanden has been on the sidelines with a niggling injury. A player tipped to help with the transition to the big league.
Liverpool also have a relatively ageing squad, with a few key players in their 30s or nearing. Without adequate investment in the next transfer window, the Reds could find themselves in a relegation scrap at the tail end of the season.
What next for Liverpool?
Liverpool can avoid finding themselves in such a position with the next couple of games coming up. A few wins against sides closer to them should pull the team further up the table.
It is going to be a tough season for Liverpool as they readjust to life in the Women’s Super League, and it is something the majority of faithfuls understood at the beginning of the season.
With enough fire power up front and ridding lapses of concentration throughout a game will see the Reds having a positive season.