Is Goodison a Good thing?
So, it's happening again! The WSL has another big-stadium clash. Everton at Goodison Park with a 40,000 capacity are hosting bitter rivals and next door neighbours Liverpool FC.
Everton are having a fantastic season with a top-notch manager in Willie Kirk and a top-notch set of young players, including future Lionesses star striker Chloe Kelly who's bagged 5 goals in 9 games this season. They've also bolstered their squads hopes of a top 4 finish by bringing in goalkeeper Sandy Maciver and lioness legend Izzy Christiensen (who has a point to prove after an unsuccessful season with Lyon).
On the other hand, Liverpool have had a terrible campaign with zero wins in 11 games. Nothing seems to be going right and a number of narrow losses and unlucky defeats have catapulted them to the bottom of the WSL table. Will they face the drop this season? It's looking more and more likely following a 1-0 losses to their rivals for the drop at the bottom of the table last week. Following a shock draw at home against Chelsea in December, Emma Hayes was quoted as saying their Liverpool pitch was "a stain on the club" which, although quite dramatic in tone is a fair analysis that needs addressing. This would never happen to a top 2 tier men's football team.
As Trent Alexander-Arnold sprints down the wing to put in an inch-perfect cross on their STRI turfgrass, mowed to 25mm and watered at halftime, Trent's fellow female teammates are rolling around in a pigsty. Seems a bit unjust? Considering women's football is playing catch up after years in the dark, you'd think the top tier women's clubs would at least model the treatment of their athletes on their respective first team men's? How can women gain ground on top tier men's football (in terms of popularity, coverage etc) when they can't even pass the ball across the ground?
So this big derby clash could be the most entertaining game of the season so far, or it could emphasise the chasmic differences between those clubs that are making an effort (like Arsenal, who now say "men's team" and "women's team" on their website instead of "first team" and "women's team") and those clubs that clearly aren't that bothered about making waves.
I predict a comfortable Everton win at home, to add to their away win at Anfield this season. I hope Liverpool can muster up something to make this clash a memorable one and help to promote the women's game to the masses.
by Helen Hardy