Arsenal Women 0-1 LFC Women: Matt Beard's post-match press conference

ReactionArsenal Women 0-1 LFC Women: Matt Beard's post-match press conference

By Glenn Price and Chris Shaw


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Matt Beard was left extremely proud at the quality and resilience his Liverpool FC Women side displayed in Sunday's 1-0 victory at Arsenal Women.

Miri Taylor's 48th-minute finish gave the Reds three points to kick off their campaign in the 2023-24 Barclays Women's Super League.

An outstanding defensive performance, including several fine saves from goalkeeper Rachael Laws, ensured it was a perfect start to the new season in front of a league-record crowd at Emirates Stadium.

Read on for a full transcript of Beard's post-match press conference...

On the win after a tough week of preparations...

LFC Women kick off new WSL season with win at Emirates Stadium

Match reportLFC Women kick off new WSL season with win at Emirates StadiumLiverpool FC Women delivered a memorable start to the new season with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal Women at Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It's been a tough week, for sure. I just think if you share the togetherness of the group today, even my assistant Amber fell ill last night and just the way the week has been, you just didn't know what was going to happen. We lost Jas and Yana on Friday, Saturday, obviously Flinty had been ill with COVID, Taylor was ill with COVID and Sophie's obviously [got] a nose and face fracture. It's been a challenging week and a great end to it.

On the defensive display...

I think defensively we were outstanding today. I think people will say, 'You were lucky.' We weren't. We defended, we put our bodies on the line, we made great saves when we needed to. I was really pleased with that. I think Lawsy was outstanding today. She's had such a good pre-season and I think that showed today.

On whether Arsenal starting with a back three surprised him...

No, not really. Because even if they're playing a back four, they build with three anyway. We had planned for dealing with a back three or them dropping a full-back just to create the overload. We just wanted to make sure that we dominated centrally because they like to get it into midfield, get it back [and] then go round you. We stopped that happening. They had to go wide, [we] forced them into the turnover every now and then. As I say, defensively – crosses, blocking shots, Lawsy's making saves when she needed to – I thought we were outstanding. I think we really restricted them to crosses coming in and shots from distance.

On pushing Taylor Hinds further up the pitch...

We changed that at half-time really. I felt we started slowly and it reminded me a little bit of last year. We weren't getting into positions that we should be getting into. We were hesitant with the movement because Arsenal press you with a lot of players. We did it really well in training on Saturday but training's different to matchday. If you look at the way we started the second half, the goal came from the way that we broke their press. Once their press is broken, that's six, seven players out of the game. We wanted to stretch them, we wanted to drop the centre-backs a little bit deeper because they do press so high and it gives us a bit more space to try to get Fuka or Gemma on the ball in the middle. From that side, we were pleased with how it worked, especially at the start of the second half.

On his side keeping their composure, particularly with 10 minutes added on at the end, and what is behind that…

We do a lot of work tactically, a lot that goes into pre-season. What we have tried to do this year is try to make it a little bit simpler and consistent. We had a nightmare second half of the season last year with the injuries. I remember planning for one game and the team changed three times; it was actually when we played Arsenal away, then we ended up having to change the system.

We have done a lot of work on defensive distances, defending crosses, because that's where the majority of goals come from in the Super League. We looked at last season, we looked at the statistics, we looked at where do the goals come from? We looked at goalkeepers' positioning, were they set, were they not set? We have done a lot of work on one, to stop conceding goals – but then two, how to score goals. There was a bit of a shift last year in goals coming from open play. We wanted to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance of winning games. We have done a lot of work on that to make sure that we win games.

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On the importance of now maintaining consistency going forward…

I think we've got a better squad this time around. We have got the experience of last year. If I go back to the Anfield game, we froze. But we played at Anfield, Goodison Park, Villa Park. So, coming here, obviously it's a fantastic stadium and it's a record crowd today, but we have got the experience of last year which we didn't have before. The thing is, it's one game. We beat Chelsea last year [on the opening day] and everyone was raving about it and then we went on a run without winning for four. For me, it's just important we take it game by game, we keep our feet on the ground. It was great to celebrate with our fans today. I like the way they've segregated it now because I think that's going to make for better atmospheres in stadiums.

On there being a record WSL crowd of 54,115 at today's game…

I think if you look even when we don't play in the main stadiums, the attendance has increased anyway. It was a great atmosphere today… my throat doesn't think so! But it was a great atmosphere, it really was. It just goes from strength to strength, doesn't it? I think if you're an Arsenal fan today you think, 'How have we not got anything out of that game?' But I know how hard we've worked to stop them playing, because they're a world-class team. It was fantastic, it was a great atmosphere and I'm just glad we spoiled the party!



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