Following Liverpool Ladies recent lack of firepower in the last 2 games 0-0 at Chelsea in the League and 0-2 against Everton in the Cup, here is a little drawing showing the changes between the 2013 title winning team and the injury hit team that started against Everton. This is based on the game shown on tv v City and the Chelsea v Liverpool game that I attended, where Liverpool finished the match with the system and players that started v Everton.
There are 5 changes from the 2013 wining team, both wingers are gone : Rolser due to an ACL injury and Fors on loan in Sweden. Davison and development team player Hodson replace them. Gibbons is in goal deputising for Stout who is injured and replaced Laws/Quantrill. Easton is playing at right back rather than Bronze who has shifted to center back to replace Engen who has gone to Tyreso as soon as the 2013 season was over.
The main difference is the lack of penetration on the flanks for the 2014 team. As seen on the right drawing the attacking threat comes mainly from 3 players now Dowie, Davison and Da Costa. It is easy for a well prepared team to defend against that organisation as attacking might be a bit asymetrical.
If we look at the 2013 team, the threat was coming from 6 different players with the Bronze & Fors pairing on the right, Schroeder & Rolser on the left plus Da Costa supporting Dowie from attacking midfield. It was a lot harder to defend against those 6 players especially if you added Williams’ capacity to switch the ball quickly from one wing to the other. If you look at last year’s video on the FA WSL websites you will see many runs to the byline and an overall extensive use of both wings with cutbacks and crosses that brought many goals for Reds.
From what I have noticed this season, Schroeder does not seem to go forward as much as last season from left back position. Easton or Harris from right-back don’t have the same speed to burn as Bronze to overlap on the wing. Davison is also a different winger from Fors as the Swedish player used to come inside more with her left foot which allowed Bronze to overlap naturally with her pace. 2 attacking options gone and if you add the lack of experience for Hodson as she is learning her trade at senior level, there are only 3 main threat, hence unexpected difficulties for the champions.
The main reason for Liverpool’s relative struggle is actually bad luck. You would have guessed that prior to the start of the season Matt Beard had planned to have an attacking trident of Davison, Dowie and Rolser with Staniforth, Longhurst and Zelem backing them up and competing for the shirt. As of today the 29th of April, only 2 of those 6 players are fit to play with Rolser and Staniforth on long term-injuries and Zelem out for a little while. 4 out of your 6 main attackers injured is too much for any team. We shall see if Liverpool comes on the market during the Summer window to prepare for the Champions League campaign. Quality players will be available to reinforce the Reds’ attack and they need to reach the mid season break without damages.