Everton host Manchester United in the FA WSL in their first home game at their new permanent home of Walton Hall Park on Sunday, less than a mile from Goodison Park.
The BBC first reported Everton’s interest in the home of the Liverpool County FA back in May 2018 and the move is long overdue after spending the beginning of the season at Southport’s Haig Avenue.
Located a 35-minute drive from Goodison Park and with a beach for a pitch, Haig Avenue failed to attract sustainable crowds during Everton’s tenure.
In November only 150 people watched the Toffees beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 in November and 167 watched them beat Reading by the same score line in January.
On Sunday Walton Hall Park will have a reduced capacity of 1,500 as Everton continue to do work on the stadium.
With both sides only recording one league win in 2020 they’ll be keen to get back to winning ways this weekend.
Here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s clash…
After Everton’s impressive start to the season that saw them win five of their first seven WSL games, the Toffees have only won since. That win, against Reading, was their last home game, after their Merseyside Derby due to be played at Goodison was postponed.
Most recently, on Monday, Willie Kirk’s side beat bottom side Bristol City 5-0 in the FA Women’s Cup and with a bumper crowd at Walton Hall Park expected Everton will be full of confidence.
Manchester United have also been through a tough 2020; they became the only side to lose to Bristol City this season, were knocked out of both the Continental Cup and the FA Women’s Cup and have only won once in the WSL.
This weekend’s game will be Casey Stoney’s side third consecutive away game after 1-1 draws with Reading and Brighton & Hove Albion in recent weeks. United currently sit one point above Everton in fifth and will be hoping to extend that gap with a win.
In all three previous meetings between the two sides Manchester United have won and scored three goals. In last season’s Continental Cup United won 3-0 at Haig Avenue with goals from Lauren James, Leah Galton and Katie Zelem. In this season’s competition Stoney’s side repeated the feat with James and Zelem scoring again with Amy Turner adding the third.
In the WSL Everton lost 3-1 at Leigh Sports Village in December, again, captain Zelem and James were on the scoresheet with James notching a brace.
Ones to watch
Fresh off the back of an England recall, Everton’s Chloe Kelly will be looking to add to her tally of nine WSL goals this season.
Only Pauline Bremer, Beth England and Vivianne Miedema have scored more goals than the 22-year-old who scored a hat-trick in her side’s last home game against Reading.
For Man Utd James has already scored four goals in three games against Everton and will be looking to add to that tally.
This will be even more likely if the 18-year-old starts the game. Of James’ six WSL goals this season five have come from just nine starts with the other coming from one of eight substitute appearances.