Liverpool made a big announcement about their return to the WSL. The Reds faced the three-time reigning WSL champions, and they made the task appear impossible by conceding a penalty in the first three minutes of the game. Liverpool weathered the storm for the remainder of the first half, and Matt Beard’s side looked far more assured in the second. The Reds never gave up, earning and converting two of their own penalties in the second half for a huge win to kick off the season.
Below, we look at some of the night’s winners and losers, attempting to separate narrative from fact.
Katie StenGOAL: The American striker saw little of the ball in the first half, but she made an impact in the second. She converted two penalty kicks with ease, the second of which she earned herself with a fantastic run. Stengel appears poised to capitalize on her chances in the WSL after scoring 8 goals and assisting 5 in just half a season last year.
Megan Campbell says When Liverpool gets a throw in beyond the halfway line, the Irishwoman causes havoc. As a second-half substitute, Campbell caused havoc in the box with her first long throw, resulting in Liverpool’s first penalty kick to tie the game. She threw several more throws into the box, causing massive scrambles.
Limiting The Champions: Chelsea have a ton of attacking talent, led by Ballon D’Or finalist Sam Kerr. While Chelsea put a lot of pressure on Liverpool, especially in the first half, the Reds did a good job of limiting shooting opportunities defensively. In the end, Chelsea had 10 shots on the day, the fewest they have had across 65 matches tracked on FBRef, according to Andrew Beasley. It wasn’t always pretty, and there were a few heart-stopping moments, but Liverpool were able to get bodies in the way of shooting opportunities to limit or block them.
Crowd Support: The announced crowd of 3,006 is a Prenton Park club record. The supporters present made their voices heard, creating a fantastic atmosphere. Let’s hope the outpouring of support continues!
Injuries Early in the Season: Shanice van de Sanden and Leanne Kiernan would almost certainly be at the top of any Liverpool fan’s list of players they are most excited to watch. Van de Sanden was forced to withdraw from the first match due to an achilles injury, according to Matt Beard. Leanne Kiernan suffered an ankle injury in the second half and appears to be on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. While we hope neither injury is serious, it appears that Matt Beard will have to put this team’s depth to the test early on.
Dissecting the Narrative: We all knew Liverpool was back before the game, but how far back were they? Were they truly back and ready to compete with the best? WE ARE BACK! said Matt Beard’s side emphatically.
What Will Happen Next?
Next weekend, Liverpool will host Everton at Anfield in another exciting match. The Reds will look to continue their momentum against their local rivals in front of what will hopefully be a fantastic crowd.