Why Everton Can Break Into the WSL ‘Big Three’

Nicoline Sørensen celebrates her first WSL goal.
Nicoline Sørensen celebrates her first WSL goal during Everton's 3-1 win over West Ham United. [Credit: Everton Women on Twitter]

With five games played this season, Everton are second in the table on 13 points. Two points behind leaders Arsenal and level with Manchester United, Willie Kirk’s side have had a superb start to the campaign.

The ‘Big Three’ consisting of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have been interchangeable winners (and top three finishers) of the WSL since 2014 when the now relegated Liverpool were crowned back-to-back WSL champions.

In a league that is widely regarded as the best in the women’s game, Everton are in a great position to gatecrash the league’s top three positions. In November last year, Willie Kirk’s side reached 12 points after beating rivals Liverpool. They are one point better off already this season with fewer games played.

What has changed at Everton this season?

Spreading the load in front of goal

Last season, Everton’s top scorer was Chloe Kelly with nine goals. Lucy Graham was next with four goals. Inessa Kaagman, Esme Morgan, Molly Pike and Danielle Turner all scored one. When Kelly departed for Man City, it seemed reasonable to wonder who would step up.

Now, instead of one player carrying the goalscoring burden, it has been spread among the team. Graham has already matched last season’s tally, while new signing Valerie Gauvin has three goals and Izzy Christiansen, Clarie Emslie and Hayley Raso have two each.

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Everton’s attacking players are ensuring the responsibility to find the back of the net is shared. All five of the aforementioned players also have at least one assist to their name. Scoring goals is certainly more of a team effort for the Merseysiders this term.

Impressive signings

It seemed Kelly would be a big loss but Everton have coped well without her so far. France international Gauvin was a huge coup for the Toffees and has settled in seamlessly.

Nicoline Sorensen has also started well and Claire Emslie’s loan move has caught the eye. Emslie has been nominated for October’s WSL player of the month, which is no surprise given her performances since signing for the club.

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A chance at FA Cup glory

The 2019/20 FA Cup resumed during the 2020/21 season and Everton have taken full advantage.

The Toffees overcame Chelsea in their postponed quarter-final match and then beat Birmingham City to set up a final against Man City.

For the first time since 2014, Everton are in the FA Cup Final. Given the form they’re in, they have every reason to believe they can surprise Man City on 1 November.

Beyond the FA Cup Final

The Toffees finished sixth when the last WSL campaign was decided on a points per game basis. They had 19 points from 14 games. Now, however, they are just six points below that after five matches this season.

Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea may well finish in the top three slots once again but it won’t be an easy achievement if Everton keep the pressure on and maintain their excellent start to the season.

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