Everton and Liverpool kick off the women’s football weekend with what could be a record-breaking Merseyside derby on Friday night.
The Goodison Park match matched the reverse fixture played at Anfield in September, with over 27,000 people in attendance that day.
Everton claimed the bragging rights with a 3-0 victory. But despite what might be seen as contrasting seasons, there isn’t much that actually separates these clubs in the table from this season.
The Toffees sit in the top half, having enjoyed a good run either side of the winter break and generally outperform those below them in the table. They were even recently the first team to keep a clean sheet against Manchester United in any competition this season. However, their season can be said to have fizzled out a bit since then, losing at home to Aston Villa and failing to beat bottom club Leicester last time.
Liverpool started the season in the best possible way when, as a newly promoted side, they inflicted a shock defeat on defending champions Chelsea. But this was followed by five straight losses in the WSL and a total of seven losses without a win. The Reds have won three of their last six in the league since then, but they have also struggled against promoted Leicester during that spell.
With a win here, Everton could move nine points clear of their city rivals in the table and all but guarantee victory above them again. But Liverpool could also cut the deficit to nine points and give themselves an excellent chance perhaps even to finish the first half.
when does it start? Friday 24 March, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Goodison Park
TV channel/live broadcast? Sky Sports Main Event / Soccer (UK), Paramount+ (US), FA Player’s Day (International)
What time does UK TV coverage start? 19:00 (GMT)
to rule? Melissa Borgin
Everton welcomed Katherine Feige off the bench last time out, keeping her in contention for extra minutes or even a start at Goodison this time around.
Loan goalkeeper Emily Ramsey sustained an injury on international duty with England last month.
Jasmine Matthews, Melissa Lawley and Shanice van de Sanden are all back in training in a big boost for Liverpool.
But the Reds were left without captain Niamh Fahey and seasoned veteran Natasha Dowie, as well as long-absent Leanne Kiernan.
Everton showed in the reverse fixture at Anfield that they have the quality to win the derby. Even with some disappointing results in recent weeks and Liverpool welcoming some players back to training, the support of the Goodison crowd and a special night under the spotlight should carry them forward.
Prediction: Everton 3-1 Liverpool