- Liverpool Ladies face their first competitive fixture since November 2016, meaning their players may be a little rusty. Having completed a disappointing 2016 Super League campaign, the Reds will be hoping for a little more cheer in this year’s FA Cup. However, in order to progress, the Merseysiders will have to do something they haven’t achieved since 2014 and win a fifth round tie.
- Everton Ladies are unbeaten in the league this season and currently enjoying something of a cup run, following an emphatic 8-1 win away to Brighouse Town and victory over Durham on penalties. The Toffees, who were unlucky to miss out on promotion to the Super League last season, are able to boast a fine FA Cup record, having won the competition on two occasions, most recently in 2010.
Liverpool’s recent poor form in this competition has prevented them from ever lifting the FA Cup, with the club having only reached the final on two occasions, losing out to Arsenal in 1995 and Croydon in 1996. In order to progress this year, the Reds must overcome their local rivals and the team who dumped them out of the tournament at the sixth round stage in 2014.
Given the squad’s lack of game time, Liverpool may be on the back foot heading into this clash, however, their recent lack of football could prove to be an advantage. Scott Rodgers’ side may not have played recently, but the girls should be refreshed following their winter break, and with the likes of Martha Harris and last season’s Player of the Year Sophie Ingle firing on all cylinders, the home side could be ready to explode out of the blocks.
Everton have started their third season in the second tier of women’s football with two successive 2-1 victories. Now they face arguably their toughest test of the season in the form of local rivals Liverpool. The Toffees will certainly be hoping for a sluggish start from their Merseyside counterparts, as they look to rekindle a rivalry that has remained dormant since Everton’s relegation in 2014.
Manager Andy Space could look to deploy a number of the younger members of his squad to terrorise the Reds’ backline. Watch out for the likes of Claudia Walker and 17-year-old Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah being given a chance to shine, while club captain Michelle Hinnigan would relish netting for her beloved team. It is this mix of youthfulness and peak match fitness that that could make all the difference in Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Everton to win