Everton are looking to get their season back on track after a mid-season slump in form against a Birmingham City side who have only played twice in nearly two months. Willie Kirk's side find themselves six points behind Arsenal in fourth who play against Manchester City this weekend. The side from Liverpool have only won one of their last seven matches in the FA Women's Super League.
They come up against the meanest defence in the league outside of the top four. Carla Ward's team have only let in 15 goals this season but like their opponents, are out of form and have not won in their last four matches in all competitions since they beat Aston Villa in November.
Everton have had a number of absentees over the last few months, but will be buoyed by the return to fitness of Valerie Gauvin, Claire Emslie and Simone Magill. In particular, Everton have been missing the threat of Gauvin up top, having been unable to score in four of their six league games since she picked up her injury.
While Poppy Pattinson and Gabby George remain on the injury list, Kirk will be pleased with the debuts made last week from Jill Scott and Alisha Lehmann. Both of the January arrivals impressed in the loss against Manchester United and will be hopeful of earning a starting spot on Sunday.
In her press conference, Carla Ward said that Abbi Grant is back in the squad after almost four months out. The return of the Scotland international is a huge boost for Ward who's side have been so decimated with absentees that they were forced to pull out of their match with Tottenham Hotspur last month last month.
New signings Sophie Whitehouse and Ruby Mace could also be in line for their debuts this weekend. Ward will have a tough decision, as to whether she should start Whitehouse in goal or stick with the in-form Hannah Hampton. Teenager Mace, who signed on loan from Arsenal, has impressed in training and is expected to make her debut off the bench on Sunday.
Everton predicted XI: MacIver (gk), Wold, Finnigan, Sevecke, Turner, Christiansen, Scott, Graham, Raso, Sorensen, Gauvin
Birmingham City predicted XI: Hampton (gk), Scott, Brougham, Lawley, Holloway, Murphy, Green, Whipp, Littlejohn, Napier, Walker
Ones to watch
Izzy Christiansen has been Everton's standout player this season. The creative midfielder has been in scintillating form topping both Everton's scoring and assists chart with four of each. She has the highest goal contributions outside of the top four in the league and has had a direct hand in six of Everton's last nine goals.
At the heart of the defence trying to stop the Everton attack is Georgia Brougham. The centre back has been a rock in what has been a very tight defence this season, having played all ten games this league season along with full backs Rebecca Holloway and captain Harriet Scott. While the loss of her centre-back partner Rachel Corsie has been keenly felt, Brougham has performed brilliantly in her absence whether alongside Scott or Gemma Lawley.
Everton and Birmingham were initially meant to play in Birmingham in December, but due to poor conditions on the pitch, the match was postponed twice and is now scheduled to be played in March. The sides last met in September 2019 was the first time Everton had beaten Birmingham in five attempts when an own goal from Kerys Harrop settled the match. City are undefeated in six WSL trips to Everton and will be looking to make that seven (stats from Opta and FBRef).
How to watch
The match kicks off on Sunday at Walton Hall Park at 2:00 PM GMT.
The match will stream live, both nationally and internationally on the FA Player.