Liverpool FC Women will start their new Women’s Super League campaign against Reading on Sunday, and there is cause for optimism for the year ahead.
Liverpool FC Women head into the new season with renewed optimism following a bright pre-season which saw the foundations for entertaining attacking football continue to be laid under the tutelage of Vicky Jepson.
It was a turbulent 2018/19 campaign for the Reds after manager Neil Redfearn sensationally resigned just one game into the season, ensuring it was to be a year of transition as a raft of new additions also required a bedding-in period.
Jepson’s side would finish in eighth place in the WSL with a record of seven wins, one draw and 12 defeats, a run which saw them finish 32 points behind league winners Arsenal.
While results may not have favoured Liverpool Women over the course of the campaign, a strong sense of togetherness and collective belief were quickly ingrained upon Jepson permanently taking the helm.
It was evidenced through the likes of midfielder Ashley Hodson, forwards Niamh Charles and Jess Clarke, goalkeeping duo Anke Pruess and Fran Kitching and team captain Sophie Bradley-Auckland all putting pen to paper on a new contract at the club in the last few months.
Reason for Excitement
The Reds will face off against 11 other clubs in the league this term after the WSL expanded for the fourth season running, with 12 clubs now competing for the title.
Tottenham Women and Manchester United Women are the newest additions to the top-flight after earning promotion last term, while Yeovil Town Ladies were relegated after being deducted 10 points for entering administration.
There will be no lofty expectations placed on the Reds this season as they look to establish a prolonged sense of stability after numerous squad overhauls and three managerial changes in just over a year.
But Liverpool Women’s preparations for 2019/20 season were handed a major boost after the team linked up with Jurgen Klopp’s side for the pre-season tour of the United States under the ‘two teams but one club ethos’.
The Reds drew and won their two respective games over Cleveland Ambassadors and Metropolitan Conference All Stars, where last season’s top goal scorer Courtney Sweetman-Kirk continued her rich vein of form by netting five times.
It was an invaluable experience for the entire squad and with a further two victories on home soil to end pre-season and potential plans for Anfield to host a WSL game this season for the first time in their history, there is a lot to be excited for in the upcoming campaign.
Jepson’s side will kick off their new season at home at Tranmere’s Prenton Park on September 8 against Reading FC Women.
A draw and a defeat ensured the Reds took home just one of a possible six points from their two league meetings last season, against a side who finished five points and three places above them last term.
The fixture is the first of four games scheduled in the opening month, with a trip to both newly promoted sides in Spurs and Man United, with a Continental Cup tie with Sheffield United at home sandwiched in the middle.
It makes for an exciting start to the new campaign for the Reds who have an early opportunity to put points on the board and stake a claim for progression out of their Continental Cup group after failing to do so last year.
Man United handed an early blow by inflicting a narrow 1-0 defeat in the cup at the start of 2018/19, meaning revenge will no doubt be on the menu for Liverpool when the two teams meet in the league on September 28.
Liverpool FC Women Squad 2019/20
Goalkeepers: Anke Preuss, Fran Kitching
Defenders: Leighanne Robe, Niamh Fahey (VC), Sophie Bradley-Auckland (C), Becky Jane, Jemma Purfield
Midfielders: Rhiannon Roberts, Jade Bailey, Christie Murray, Melissa Lawley, Amy Rodgers, Missy Bo Kearns
Forwards: Jessica Clarke, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Ashley Hodson, Niamh Charles, Rinsola Babajide, Kirsty Linnett
Notably, Liverpool will play rivals Everton at Prenton Park on November 17, a game which precedes a tough month of action for the Reds.
Trips to Arsenal, Man City and a home fixture against Chelsea then await in the following four weeks in what will be a stern test of Liverpool’s credentials against sides who finished first through to third respectively in the league last season.
Although Jepson’s side will not be expected to mount a title charge, there will be hopes that their eighth-place finish can be improved upon in conjunction with progression out of their group in the Continental Cup.
Another FA Cup run, after reaching the quarter-final stage in the last two seasons, would not go amiss either.
Overall, there is a lot to be optimistic about for Liverpool Women after a strong pre-season and a new-found sense of stability which saw only a handful of changes to personnel over the summer.
Liverpool’s opening WSL game of the season will be available live on the FA’s new online streaming platform on Sunday, September 8, with kick-off at 2.00pm (BST). The Reds’ full fixture list can be found here.