LFC WomenMatt Beard column: Villa test, Fahey and Kiernan return and fantastic Koivisto
In his latest column, Liverpool FC Women manager Matt Beard previews Sunday's penultimate game of the season when his side face Aston Villa at Villa Park.
We are looking forward to getting back to action on Sunday but for once I have to say the break probably did come at the right time for us.
Niamh Fahey and Leanne Kiernan have been flying in training so hopefully I can get them some minutes in our final two games of 2022-23 to get them ready for the World Cup with Ireland.
It was great to take the squad to Prenton Park for a training session last Friday in front of invited partners of the club. It was a good session, it was a nice day and it was great to meet our special guests and they got to meet the players after training, which was great.
We have got two games left now this season, including Manchester United at home on the last day, and I want us to be as competitive as we can be and there’s six points still to play for.
We are looking forward to the game at Villa Park on Sunday, Villa are flying at the moment so I feel this will be a good test for us. Villa have actually had the opportunity to play at their men’s first-team stadium a few times this season.
Normally these type of games when you play them in the men’s stadium it makes it more of a leveller really, but Villa have played there so much during the last two years that I guess it’s more like home from home for them now.
Aston Villa have obviously got some very good players and in Rachel Daly they have someone who scores lots of goals. I’ve known Rachel for a long time. I was in America when she was in Houston, I know she’s a fantastic player. But we defended really well against Bunny Shaw of Manchester City and then Sam Kerr in the previous outing at Chelsea, so hopefully we can do the same against Rachel.
This is our last opportunity to try to get three points away from home this season. It would be nice to do that and get that off our back I guess, but Aston Villa have been fantastic this season. Obviously they invested in the playing staff and this will be a good test for us to see where we are at.
From our point of view, we want to make sure that we finish this season with as many points as possible. We feel 22 points is a good return for our first season back in the WSL. We could be on more, we know that, but I think we’ve had a successful return to this league and we want to end it strongly.
On the injury front, Melissa Lawley had an operation on her hip last week and I am pleased to report it went well. I have texted Mel a few times and she’s in good spirits and so far, so good. It’s about recovery now and getting comfortable.
One player who has really become a favourite amongst our fans has been Emma Koivisto. It took her a while to settle in but she is a fantastic player and the energy she gives us up and down that line is second to none. She has added a few goals and assists to her game now and there is still much more to come from Emma.
It’s always tough when you go into a new team, especially the way the start of the season panned out for us with all the injuries that we had. You are trying to build new relationships, it’s tough, but she has been consistent all year and she has been fantastic.
As always, thank you for your continued support.
Matt Beard was speaking to Liverpoolfc.com's Steve Hunter