Liverpool’s male and female first teams both travel to London to take on Crystal Palace on Sunday, with the games kicking off at the same time. Liverpool FC Women correspondent Lauren McCann looks at the ladies’ side’s prospects.
The Reds fell to a 1-0 defeat to WSL side Tottenham in the quarter final of the Continental Cup on Wednesday, but will hope to produce another encouraging performance that will help them take away all three points against the Eagles.
Palace currently occupy third place, eight points behind Liverpool with a game in hand after a recent good run of form helped to catapult them up the table.
Dean Davenport’s side, like Liverpool, have won their last four league games, shocking fellow promotion hopefuls Durham last Sunday by edging the Wildcats 3-2 in a thrilling game at Maiden Castle.
Two first half goals from Taylor Hinds and Ashley Hodson enabled the Reds to narrowly overcome Palace in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, and given the two sides go into this game in such a rich vein of form it appears it will be another hotly contested encounter.
The Reds will have to show more cutting edge than they did against Watford last weekend if they want to beat Palace stopper Emily Orman, who was voted the Championship’s Player of the Week following another excellent display against Durham.
The Chelsea loanee has enjoyed a breakthrough season with Palace and has been one of their standout performers alongside fellow summer arrival Millie Farrow, who has netted five times for the Eagles since signing from Leicester.
Farrow has been as important a signing to Palace as Leanne Kiernan has been to Liverpool, and the prolific Irish striker will surely return to the starting eleven for this game after she was rested midweek against Spurs.
Katie Stengel started ahead of the 22-year-old on Wednesday, but couldn’t repeat her heroics from Sunday against Tottenham midweek as the Reds exited the League Cup after a goal from Rachel Williams.
The introduction of the American striker was one of seven changes made by Matt Beard on Wednesday, a decision influenced by a combination of wanting to rotate to keep the squad fresh and injuries.
Ceri Holland has tested positive for Covid-19, and therefore missed Wednesday’s game abs will once again be unavailable for tomorrow’s fixture.
The Reds were dealt another blow when Beard also revealed that influential centre back Jasmine Matthews is set for a short spell of 2-3 weeks on the sidelines after sustaining a hamstring tear against the Hornets.
Rianna Dean has also suffered a setback in her return from injury, whilst Georgia Walters parted ways with the club to join fellow Championship outfit Sheffield United.
Beard has the squad depth necessary to contend with these absences, with Leighanne Robe set to cover for Matthews and play alongside Niamh Fahey and Megan Campbell in the back three.
Charlotte Wardlaw started against Tottenham and it will be interesting to see if she retains her place for the trip to the capital or if Rhiannon Roberts is preferred to the Chelsea loanee.
The ever present Taylor Hinds has made the left wing back spot her own and will once again start against Palace.
She has arguably been Liverpool’s most consistent performer this season and will be hoping to add to her assist tally against the Eagles.
Rachel Furness is likely to partner Missy Bo Kearns in the midfield as was the case on Wednesday night, whilst the front three of Melissa Lawley, Kiernan and Daniels, who have performed so well this season, should once again start.
This is a huge test of Liverpool’s title credentials against a team who are clinical when presented with opportunities in front of goal.
A win tomorrow would take them ten points clear of the chasing pack, a lead which at this stage of the season, and the form Liverpool are in, would appear almost insurmountable.
The tangibility of achieving promotion increases with each victory and one on Sunday would be another huge stride towards reaching the WSL, a deserved reward for a side who are currently on a 10 game unbeaten run in the league, and show no signs of letting up.
Liverpool’s fixture against Crystal Palace kicks off at 2pm at Hayes Lane on Sunday.
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