Man City head to Goodison Park for WSL season opener vs Everton

Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Manchester City and Everton at Manchester City Football Academy on March 07, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

The City season opener sees Manchester City travel to the northwest of England as they look to kick-start their 2021/22 Women’s Super League campaign.

The first of their fixtures will be played at famous Goodison Park. The site is home of Premier League side Everton, available due to the men’s side being away on international duty.

What to expect

Both sides will be looking to start the season strongly and get off the mark with a win in their respective opening game.

Gareth Taylor led his side to a second place finish in the table last season after taking on the role of head coach back in May 2020. He also picked up the delayed Vitality Women’s FA Cup 2020 after beating today’s opponent 3-1 in extra time at Wembley.

Everton finished fifth last season after gaining 32 points from 22 matches, winning a total of nine and drawing five times. The Toffees will be in fine form heading into the match after having an emphatic pre-season run seeing them unbeaten across five games.

Transfer activity

Willie Kirk has had a successful transfer window, bringing in nine new recruits from various nationalities. Among these are Swedish trio Anna Anvegard, Nathalie Bjorn and Hanna Bennison. Others include Kenza Dali, Aurora Galli, Leonie Maier, and Courtney Brosnan. All nine players will be seeking to make their competitive debuts for the club on Saturday afternoon.

There were also some noticeable departures for the Toffees. Chaney Boye-Hlorkah, Abbey-Leigh Stringer and Tinja Korpela moved on to fellow WSL clubs. The three joined Aston Villa, Tottenham and West Ham respectively. 

Manchester City have had a less busy transfer window in terms of recruitment. The Citizens only brought in five new players for the upcoming season. However, this did include highly-rated Jamaican striker Khadija Shaw.

There were more departures from City than arrivals. The American trio of Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis, and Abby Dahlkemper all returned to the NWSL. England international Gemma Bonner joined them in the American league. Megan Campbell moved to Championship side Liverpool. Finally, Aoife Mannion moved to the other side of the way to join rival Manchester United. 

Familiar faces

Two names that will be familiar to both sets of fans will be Toni Duggan (Everton) and Hayley Raso (Manchester City). 

Everton announced the return of Toni Duggan on July 9 after putting pen to paper on a two-year deal. (Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)

England international Duggan re-signed for Everton in July.  She began her career with the Blues back in 2007 before moving to Manchester City in 2013. Under former manager Nick Cushing, Duggan made 75 appearances for City and contributed a total of 34 goals on the way. She is third on the all-time top scorer list for Man City since the relaunch in 2014. A return to the WSL will hopefully provide Duggan with the best possible chances of securing a place in Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses squad for the upcoming Euros.

One of Taylor’s newest recruits, Hayley Raso, joins Manchester City after spending the 2020/21 season in an Everton shirt. The electrifying winger appeared twenty-two times last season in the league. She finished with five goals, including a hat-trick away at Brighton in March. The Australian international comes off the back of a fourth place finish at Tokyo 2020. She will be looking to shine in the City season opener and impress her new set of fans at the club.

Australia forward Hayley Raso completed a move to Manchester City in mid-August. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

Predicted XIs

Everton: Maclver, Bjorn, George, Finnigan, Sevecke, Christensen, Galli, Dali, Duggan, Sorensen and Anvegard. 

Manchester City: Taieb, Morgan, Houghton, Kennedy, Greenwood, Weir, Coombs, Losada, Hemp, Raso and Shaw. 

Team news and managers’ thoughts

The home side will be without new signing Leonie Maier, who has picked up an injury to her thigh. They will also be without Scotland international Simone Magill, unavailable due to a knock to her tendon. However, the boss provided some good news on striker Valerie Gauvin. The forward will be named on the bench, but the side will remain cautious as she works her way back from injury. Kirk says he’s very excited for the season opener at Goodison. He also states the staff and players are also looking forward to the game. He says all the preparations are complete and they are ready to play.

The Blue’s injury troubles

The City season opener will be without some key players for the trip to Goodison Park. These include Team GB’s top-scorer Ellen White, defender Lucy Bronze, and long-term absentee Chloe Kelly. Kelly continues to recover from an ACL injury sustained toward the end of last season. Taylor has shared forward Georgia Stanway will be back in contention after missing the Real Madrid game in midweek. However, she will likely see reduced minutes on the pitch. He also said goal-keeper Ellie Roebuck and midfielder Keira Walsh are expected to miss out. Both players also missed midweek due to sustaining injury. The boss is anticipating a return for the England pair after the international break. City’s sixth signing of the transfer window, Filippa Angeldahl, is also not expected to be involved in tomorrow’s match. Her omission is nothing injury related.

Where to watch

The eagerly anticipated WSL game between Everton and Manchester City will be available to watch via BBC One for UK viewers. 

The action will get underway on Saturday 4 September at 1:30 pm from Goodison Park.

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