The first live game of the 2013 season will take place at the Halton Stadium on Saturday the 23rd of March kick-off at 7.30 pm : Liverpool v Everton in a Group 2 game.
There is nothing better than a Merseyside derby to kick-off what should be a very interesting season. Liverpool made a lot of change in personnel and coaching staff while Everton changed manager and lost of a couple of influential players. The balance of power may well have shifted in Liverpool.
Last week-end results 5-0 for Liverpool against Villa and no game for Everton mean this game will be Everton’s season opener, while Liverpool will be full of confidence. Everton has had a good preseason and star players like Scott and Duggan need to perform and lead by example, Finnis in goal will be busy and will need to be at her best.
Liverpool played Becky Easton at right back against Villa, with Lucy Bronze not making the match squad was the main surprise in the line-up on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if Matt Beard makes changes in his starting 11 on Saturday night. Everton has announced 3 new signings during the week in Durrack, Magill and Nelson.
The other Group 2 game will be played also on Saturday the 23rd at the Keepmoat Stadium between Doncaster and Chelsea. Chelsea like Liverpool went abroad and added Icelandic, Swedish talent. They were beaten 1-0 at Lincoln, a disappointing result for an ambitious side. According to many sources, Chelsea have signed 3 extra players ( one Brazilian, one Japanese and one English) but nothing has been announced. There were some interesting choices by Emma Hayes last week-end with Holtham at center back rather than Davies and Jakobsson and Aluko on the wing rather than Bleazard. Youngsters Blundell and Muya got their first senior game as well.
Doncaster has a young team and will be likely to struggle this season. Sue Smith was the main absentee last week-end and her experience is vital to help and lead a group full of young talented players. Doncaster also gave a game to a youngster 16 years old Ashleigh Mills. Fair play to John Buckley, if a player is talented, age should not matter.
In Group 1 Bristol will host Lincoln both side with very high ambitions and it should be a very good quality season opener. Bristol won at Doncaster with a side that contained 5 forwards ( Del Rio, Watts, Heatherson, Curson and Staniforth) but I would expect James to be back in midfield alongside Windell as Lincoln are strong and powerful in that area. Will we also see the female Michu( Natalia) on Saturday ? She certainly knows where the goal is and will be a big asset for Bristol.
This will be the first game WSL game for Rick Passmoor with Lincoln and he had a lot of success with Leeds Ladies and many of those players now play for Lincoln. After that important 1-0 win over Chelsea, Lincoln will travel in a very positive mood looking for a result. Barker and Sargeant are injured and Sophie Walton was suspended last Sunday following a red card on final league day.
The other group 1 game has been postponed due to Arsenal playing Forest in the FA Cup. New date tbc, there are 3 week-ends put aside by the FA to catch-up any postponed game. I bet they will all be used, especially if Arsenal qualifies for the Champions League semi-final making it a trio of WSL games postponed.