Less than two months ago Brighton & Hove Albion had just lost to bottom side Bristol City, had mustered just one point in their previous seven matches and were facing Chelsea in their next match. Four matches on, the south coast side find themselves just four points off Everton in fifth and on course for their highest ever Women's Super League finish.
Everton are looking to bounce back a chastening 3-0 defeat to Chelsea last weekend and put together a good run to cap off a season marked by inconsistency and injury. With fellow fifth place competitors Reading facing a difficult task against Manchester City, this match presents a great opportunity for Everton to re-establish a comfortable buffer between them and the competition below.
The home side are unlikely to make any changes following their 2-0 victory over Aston Villa last weekend. The Seagulls have benefitted from a return to fitness of a number of key players, particularly in defence which was also boosted by the signing of Emma Koivisto. The Finn's start to life in England has coincided with the turn in form and return to a rock solid defence that has kept three consecutive clean sheets.
Manager Willie Kirk has ruled out club captain Danielle Turner for the rest of the season, a real blow for the Merseyside outfit. Keeper Sandy MacIver has returned to full training this week, following her injury against Birmingham City a couple weeks ago. While she has returned to full training, it is expected that Tinja-Riikka Korpela will retain her starting spot.
Brighton predicted XI: Walsh, Le Tissier, Kerkdijk, Williams, Koivisto, Brazil, Kaagman, Connolly, Heroum, Whelan, Geum-Min
Everton predicted XI: Korpela, Raso, Finnigan, Sevecke, George, Scott, Christiansen, Sørensen, Graham, Emslie, Gauvin
Ones to watch
Brighton are very much a product where the sum is greater than the parts. Their defence in particular has been remarkably consistent the last two months and Megan Walsh is backing it all up in goal. She told Brighton's website this week, 'I probably haven't kept three clean sheets in a row since I was a youth player at Aston Villa, over ten years ago!' The veteran shot-stopper has been in great form and will be looking to make it four clean sheets in a row.
Looking to break that resolute defence is French striker Valerie Gauvin. The forward is perhaps a microcosm of Everton's season, a promising start before having her season disrupted by injuries and inconsistency. She is undoubtedly talented and a real goal threat when fully firing, but she has struggled to reclaim her form since coming back from a long-term injury. She has only mustered two goals, both penalties, in her five matches since returning from injury. If there was a game for her to put it behind her, it would be in this key fixture.
The two sides played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Merseyside in October in their most recent meeting. When the sides met at Brighton last season, the seagulls ran out 1-0 winners thanks to an Aileen Whelan goal.
How to watch
The match will kick off Sunday at 12:30pm (GMT) at Twerton Park and will be shown on the FA Player.