After a less than desirable opening game, Liverpool Women have found their groove under new management having formed an identity as they push towards promotion.
Stability has been in short supply for Liverpool Women, with four different managers, including one caretaker, in a three-year period that also led to their relegation to the FA Championship.
It’s now the second time of asking for promotion but Matt Beard is at the helm this time around, the man who led Liverpool to the Women’s Super League title in back to back seasons in 2013 and 2014.
There was no hiding away from the Reds’ ambitions this season when Beard spoke to This Is Anfield, having said “the priority is to get out of this league, to get back up into the WSL.”
And while a defeat on the opening day against London City Lionesses was far from ideal, a five-game league unbeaten run has steered Liverpool back in the early promotion mix.
Here’s a look at their season so far.
- Lost 1-0 vs. London City Lionesses
- Won 3-2 vs. Watford
- Drew 0-0 vs. Bristol City
- Won 2-1 vs. Crystal Palace
- Won 2-0 vs. Coventry
- Won 2-0 vs. Sheffield United
- Drew 1-1 (5-4 on penalties) vs. Aston Villa (League Cup)
The overwhelming sense from Liverpool’s opening seven games is that there is a clear style of play, a high tempo game that keeps the ball moving and creates chances.
It’s been a notable weakness in the past with goals and opportunities having proved hard to come by but in their opening six games in the league, they have scored nine, with promise for more to come.
Going the other way, however, the midfield solidarity and a strong backline has seen just four goals conceded – the joint-fewest in the division alongside Charlton and leaders Durham.
And it’s lent itself to a more assured performance across the board, with Liverpool boasting noticeable confidence that was perhaps lacking last season.
In the fourth game of the season, Beard opted for three at the back following captain Niamh Farhey’s red card against Bristol, and the personnel available have thrived with the system change.
Taylor Hinds and Charlotte Wardlaw, in particular, have both found the net from their wing-back position and the Reds have three wins on the spin since the change.
The results keep Liverpool within touching distance of Durham at the top of the table, behind by just two points after the first six games.
An impressive 1-1 draw against the WSL’s Aston Villa in the League Cup then closed out the first round of games in style with an extra point picked up with a penalty shootout win giving the Reds a bounce into the break.
One to Watch: Leanne Kiernan
The current leading goalscorer, Kiernan joined in the summer and has got off the mark nicely with four goals, which included a brace against Coventry.
The 22-year-old has experience in the top-flight with West Ham and has quickly settled into the side, alleviating the scoring pressure off the shoulders of Rachel Furness.
It’s been a team effort so far in 2021/22 and it will need to continue that way, but Kiernan has shown promise in attack alongside the experienced Melissa Lawley.
The Reds will hope there’s plenty more to come from Kiernan and early indicators suggest as much.
League Points: 13 (2nd)
Goals Scored (all comps): 10
Goals Conceded: 5
Top Goalscorer: Leanne Kiernan (4)
Most Assists: Melissa Lawley and Rachel Furness (2)
Clean sheets: 3
Lewes FC (H) – Championship – Sunday, Oct 31 – 12pm
Sheffield United (A) – League Cup – Wednesday, Nov 3 – 7.30pm
Blackburn (H) – Championship – Sunday, Nov 7 – 2pm
Durham (A) – Championship – Sunday, Nov 14 – 12pm
Blackburn (H) – League Cup – Wednesday, Noc 17 – 7pm
It does not get any easier after a two-week break with League Cup action supplementing the league exploits, ensuring Beard will need to utilise the full depth of his squad.
The key fixture that stands out above the rest in the next run of five games is the trip to Durham, current league leaders.
And Liverpool will need to have a positive result against Lewes to make sure they are in a position to capitalise with such small margins to no doubt decide promotion this time around.