Liverpool Ladies season preview: Reds begin with Merseyside derby

Liverpool Ladies kick-off their 2017/18 Women’s Super League 1 campaign on Friday, with a Merseyside derby on the opening day.

Everton will be competing in WSL1 for the first time since their relegation in 2014. Liverpool won 2-1 against the Blues in the knock-out stages of the FA Cup back in March and they would no doubt settle for a similar result during their first match of the new season.

As well as their neighbours in blue, Liverpool will hope to challenge with the teams at the top of the table following an encouraging Spring Series.

The Reds finished mid-table in the end but produced strong displays ich suggested they are capable of competing with WSL 1 high-fliers Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Almost every team in the league have strengthened their squads ahead of the new season and Liverpool are not exempt from that – although the bulk of their activity took place prior to the start of the Spring Series.

Manager Scott Rogers signed England internationals Jess Clarke, Laura Coombs and Casey Stoney, o have all made big impressions during the summer.

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LFC Ladies signings Jess Clarke and Laura Coombs with manager Scott Rodgers (images via Liverpool FC)

However, as well as bringing in some experienced players, Liverpool lost key attacker Shanice van de Sanden o secured a move to Champions League winners Lyon following a hugely impressive European Championships tournament.

The loss of the Netherlands star was seen as a ‘blow’ by captain Gemma Bonner but Liverpool will hope Scotland international Caroline Weir will continue to bag them goals in Van de Sanden’s absence.

“It’s been a long pre-season but the girls have been working really hard for the first game against Everton and we just can’t wait to get going now,” Bonner told This Is Anfield.

“Players have to step up and showcase at they can do and it’s no different to any situation we have been in before,” Bonner continued.

“Losing Shanice (van de Sanden) from any team would be a loss but over the years we have lost players and it also gives the opportunity for younger players to come through.

“Obviously it was a blow to lose her but we have players o have stepped up and hopefully they can show that this season.”

As well as their league aspirations, Liverpool will hope to produce another strong FA Cup run after reaching the semi-finals last season.

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They were knocked out and denied a place in the final at Wembley by league champions Manchester City so the Reds will hope to go one step further this year.

City will expect to battle it out for the title with Chelsea and Arsenal but a good season for Liverpool would see them compete with those three teams and secure a top four finish.

The FA Women’s Super League season kicks-off on the weekend of the 22-24 September. For more information on both leagues and to purchase tickets, visit www.FAWSL.com.

2016/17 League position: 5th
Spring Series position: 4th
Player to watch: Caroline Weir
Young player to watch: Niamh Charles
Predicted finish: 4th

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