MATCH PREVIEW: Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies

 Liverpool Ladies will return to action on Sunday, following the FA Women’s Super League mid-season break for the Women’s World Cup.

 England’s unprecedented success has seen a spike in interest in the women’s game across the country – Liverpool’s Fara Williams featured on the front page of the Sunday Observer following her bronze medal winning penalty against Germany in the 3rd place play off.

 Liverpool’s opponents this Sunday, Arsenal Ladies, have reported a spike in ticket sales – selling 5 times the amount online as of yesterday, than they would have usually. With tickets also available on the gate, Arsenal are expecting a record crowd in the 6pm kick off at Boreham Wood FC. Entry is priced at £6 adults, £3 concessions and tickets are slightly cheaper if you buy online in advance. The game will also be shown live on BT Sport.

Fara Williams celebrates scoring v Germany

 Matt Beard has said this week that Fara Williams may not feature against Arsenal, having been one of England’s key players during their campaign and featuring in every game over the course of the tournament.

 Liverpool supporters can however look forward to seeing new signing 22-year old striker  Rosie White in action. The New Zealand international was announced yesterday, signing for the Reds from UCLA. White has scored 14 goals in 71 appearances for New Zealand, most recently featuring for her country at the World Cup – finishing bottom of Group A after 2 draws and a defeat.

 Lucy Staniforth will be like a new signing, the midfielder made a number of substitute appearances for the first team before the break while also building up her fitness with the development squad; Katrin Omarsdottir and Ashley Hodson should also return to the first team set up following injury.

 The Reds will be without Nicole Rolser, who recently departed for Bayern Munich, Katie Zelem, away with England U19s in Israel, and goalkeeper Danielle Gibbons who is recovering from surgery to remove a benign brain tumour.

 Results were not going the clubs way in the first half of the season, defeat away to Birmingham in the FA Cup was followed by an opening day league defeat to newcomers Sunderland Ladies.

 Switching to the 4-1-4-1 formation, with Becky Easton as a holding midfielder, Martha Harris making a mark on the right back position and Fara Williams playing higher up the pitch, begun to produce better performances – Asisat Oshoala providing the flair from right wing, scoring one and assisting Williams in a 2-1 league win against Birmingham. Liverpool were then unlucky to fall to a 1-0 loss away at Chelsea before beating Manchester City the following week. In the final game before the break, Notts County recorded a 1-0 victory over Liverpool, despite the Reds, arguably, again being the better team on the afternoon.

 The change in personnel, with Rolser gone, Staniforth, Omarsdottir and Hodson returning and White coming in, could again see a change in formation. Gemma Bonner was voted @LFCladiesfans Player of the Season at the midway stage and the Liverpool captain will again be a key player during the second half of the campaign.

Lucy Staniforth can be a key player in the Liverpool midfield

 Liverpool’s hosts for the evening Arsenal Ladies are 6 points ahead in the league table, with a game in hand. The Gunners sit in 2nd place, 2 points behind leaders Chelsea Ladies. New manager Pedro Martinez Losa has overseen a turnaround in fortunes for the side after a disappointing campaign last year.

 Losa has made a trio of new signings over the break – Spanish midfielder Marta Corredera, Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaa arriving along with Dominique Janssen, a defender also from Holland.

 Arsenal’s outgoings include Caroline Weir to Bristol Academy, Siobhan Chamberlain on loan to Notts County and Lianne Sanderson to an as yet unnamed side. Kelly Smith will also be missing through injury, with Jordan Nobbs also a doubt.

 To give us the point-of-view from Arsenal Ladies, long-time supporter Nic Stonebridge answered a few questions;

 Q Arsenal Ladies sit 2nd in the league and remain unbeaten ahead of Liverpool’s visit, a contrast to last season’s start of 4 defeats in the opening 6 games – with largely the same group of players. Is this the effect new manager Pedro Martinez Losa has had on the club, what has he changed?

 A The club went through a bad spell at the beginning of last season which showed on the pitch. I think Losa coming in brought some much needed stability to the players. He also was aware he wanted an attractive form of football to be player, very much the Arsenal way.

 Q Losa has made a number of new Spanish signings, how have winter arrivals Natalia Pablos Sanchez and Vicky Losada fitted in with their team mates?

 A The Spanish players has fitted in well at Arsenal. Natalia coming from Bristol Academy we knew how good a player she is and with 3 goals already she looks to be continuing that form.

 Losada too fits the Losa way of playing. He knows what she is capable of having coached her at Western New York Flash and he has also just brought in Spanish midfielder Marta Corredera so we should see a good link up between the 3 this season.

 Q Who are your key players Liverpool supporters can look out for on Sunday?

 A Look out for Leah Williamson and Carla Humphrey, Leah is obviously known for that pressure penalty for England in the under 19 Euros. Leah’s mate Carla is a very talented player too, she made great strides in the first half of the season and I expect them both to make an impact if player. Also, if Chioma Ubogagu continues where she left off last season she could make life difficult for Liverpool!

 Q England’s success at the World Cup has drawn a spotlight to the women’s game, do you think we will see an increase in support for clubs in the Women’s Super League?

 A I really hope so! The World Cup had great viewing figures! If that could be transferred to attendance in the FAWSL that would be amazing. People now see the talent there is in the women’s game, plus it’s cheap to take the family – a great day out!

 Q What is your score prediction for the game? 

 A I don’t usually do score predictions, but as you asked I expect a close game but I think the Gunners will come out 2-1 winners… in front of a big crowd (hopefully)!

Arsenal Ladies v Liverpool Ladies, 
Sunday 12th July, 6pm kick-off, 
Boreham Wood FC. 

Live on BT Sport.

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