Everton have a very talented squad, a well versed manager, and all the tools they need to break into the FAWSL elite. What they lack is a mental edge, and it showed in their fifth-place finish this year. 

The team started the season strong, with four wins out of the gate. Their fifth match was against Brighton and ended in a 2-2 draw. It was a match that they should have won based on their performance, and their chances.

Still, they were unbeaten going into their next match: away at Chelsea. 

At that point in the season, Chelsea was going into the match with the exact same results as Everton, four wins, and one draw. Yet, as soon as the first whistle was blown, the hosts were all over Everton on the pitch, and the dominant and defiant Everton that had played the first five matches of the season were nowhere to be found.

Chelsea scored within the first 20 minutes, and the score remained 1-0 at halftime. Everton had a few chances to equalize but failed to capitalize. The story of the second half was similar; Chelsea were not necessarily defending well, but their opponents had little composure in front of the goal. Eventually, three late goals gave Chelsea the 4-0 win. 

“I thought our performance was really good,” said Everton manager Willie Kirk. “Nobody can convince me that’s a 4-0 performance. It’s a bump in the road but a very sore one.” 

Things after that Chelsea match did not improve, with only one win in their next seven matches. For such a strong start at the beginning of the season, Everton ended up finishing the 22 match season with only nine wins. After their seventh loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat against Arsenal, Blues midfielder, Izzy Christiansen, spoke about the team’s mental state throughout the season. The defeat came after a 94th minute penalty from Arsenal’s Kim Little.

“We just have to overcome that fear that we have against these bigger teams sometimes, it is that boundary between being good and being great,” said Christiansen, who ended the season as Everton’s top scorer with seven goals in all competitions. “We showed a lot of grit and bite today that we haven’t necessarily shown in previous games against top-three teams. I am proud of the team for that and we were really unlucky to concede the penalty, but it is a learning curve for us.”

The problem was that there were no clear signs of an easy solution. The tactics by Kirk seemed appropriate, and the players were playing well as a team for the most part. Instead, the loss of points almost always came down to lapses’ in concentration for Everton: unnecessarily penalties conceded, poor defensive decision making, and an inability to score in crucial moments despite creating big chances for themselves. 

After the Arsenal match, Everton had a chance to rectify their mistake by playing another top team in Manchester United for their last game of the season. 

United, despite being in poor forms themselves, won the match 2-0, with Ella Toone scoring an early volley in the 8th minute, and Kirsty Hanson scoring a late one in the 89th minute. 

Jill Scott, who is one of Everton’s most experienced players and is on loan from Manchester City discussed her team’s frame of mind during the match. 

“We’re disappointed with the result. We probably didn’t start the game at our best. If you go 1-0 down, you give yourself a bit of a mountain to climb,” she said. “We just got a little bit desperate at the end, the game became too open and we were always chasing that win.”

Kirk also talked about making a push for a Champions League spot next season after the match. 

“There’s an evident gap between us and the top four. We need to make changes. We need to change our working practices. We need to continue to work at the culture. There’s got to be a little bit more of a killer instinct,” he said. “As a team, I feel we’re on a cliff edge and it’s about the ones who are brave enough to jump and have a bit of faith. When you jump, there’s going to be a nice landing. Those who don’t jump, they can’t be here because we need to find a way of jumping into something positive. It’s about taking those ones with us who are brave enough and making sure we are competing for Champions League spots next season.”

There is no overnight solution for combating the problem that Everton have. But if the club wants to break into the FAWSL elite, the players and the coaching staff need to work together to instill a tougher mentality against the teams above them in the table. You can’t join the elite until you believe you belong there, and Everton has reasons to believe they do.

The FAWSL transfer window opened up on January 1st, and the 12 clubs have until the 28th to complete any activity before season’s end, when the summer transfer window opens.

This current window is the perfect opportunity for all the clubs, but especially the league’s leaders, to strengthen their current squads and put themselves on track for an end season run.

The transfer window has been open for about a week now, and some FAWSL clubs have been keen on dealing with their business early. Below is a roundup of all the early deals.


Villa started off the window strong by signing Mana Iwabuchi from Japanese football club INAC Kobe Leonessa. Iwabuchi has been a star for Japan since she made her international debut over a decade ago, back in 2010. She’s helped Japan win gold at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup (where she won the tournament’s MVP award), and the 2018 Asian Games. She also won silver at the 2012 London Olympic Games, and was a part of the team that finished runner up to the US at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

Iwabuchi’s success for Japan has translated well into her club career —  she’s been incredibly successful, winning eight trophies with Nippon TV Tokyo Verdy Belezaher, the first club she played for in Japan, from 2007-2012. After those five years, she ended up in Germany, winning promotion with Hoffenheim in 2013, and winning two Frauen-Bundesliga with Bayern Munich in 2015 and 2016.

Iwabuchi’s stint with Villa will be her first in England, and Villa’s head coach, Gemma Davies stated that “not only will [Iwabuchi] bring a wealth of experience to the squad, but she will also add a different dimension to our attacking play. She is a very technical player that thrives in tight spaces, and we cannot wait to see her continue to develop at Aston Villa.”

Having won promotion last season from the Championship, Villa currently sit in 11th place this season. This signing shows that they want to do more than stay in the FAWSL, but also want to avoid having to continuously fight a relegation battle each season.



Chelsea started off the transfer window by bringing in another goalkeeper, signing Zećira Mušović from Swedish club FC Rosengård.

This is definitely an interesting signing to say the least, as Chelsea already have two fantastic goalkeepers — their number one, Ann-Katrin Berger, and their second keeper, Carly Telford.

With two fit and healthy goalkeepers, it does make Chelsea signing Mušović seem entirely unnecessary. The likelihood of the situation is that one of Berger or Telford will leave at the end of the season and Chelsea are attempting to prepare for it early, rather than attempt to sign a keeper in the summer. The most likely departure is Telford, whose contract is up at the end of May, and will likely be looking for a club that can guarantee her the starting goalkeeper position.

Mušović has quite a bit of experience for such a young player, having won bronze with Sweden at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and six trophies with FC Rosengård.

Chelsea, who are currently in third place in the league, are considered one of the best teams in the FAWSL, and much of it is due to their depth. It is unlikely that Mušović will come in and replace Berger as Chelsea’s starting keeper, but she will be a vital piece when called upon, and she is definitely one to watch for the future for both club and country.



Back in August of 2020, the Orlando Pride loaned Scottish forward Claire Emslie to Everton until the end of the calendar year, and Everton’s business thus far in the transfer window has been to make that deal permanent, with Emslie signing an 18 month contract with the club.

Everton this season have been a revelation, coming out the gates punching well above their fighting weight. They were unbeaten their first five league matches, winning the first four, and drawing the fifth. Since then, their form has dipped a bit, and it remains to be seen how the break will impact their form in the new year.

Emslie has been a fantastic addition to the team, contributing four goals in just six starts. She’s also quite familiar with the league, having been a key factor in helping Bristol City get promoted to the FAWSL back in 2017, and winning the domestic double with Manchester City during the 2018/19 season.

Everton is one of the teams attempting to break into the ranks of the ‘Big Three’ (Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City) by finishing in the top three and earning a spot in the Champions League. Everton has a strong starting XI, but the games in which they’ve struggled have demonstrated their lack of depth, a department that the ‘Big Three’ have little issues in. Signing Emslie on a permanent contract brings Everton that much closer to being on the same level as the top competition.

The FAWSL is back this weekend, with West Ham taking on Manchester City, and Aston Villa hosting Arsenal on the 9th. The transfer window will remain open, and we’ll likely see a lot of clubs continue to do their business until the final day. Stay tuned for next week’s transfer window roundup.


Manchester City 3, Everton 0

GOALS: Ellen White, 25’; Gemma Banner, 26’; Janine Beckie, 45+2’

A long-awaited rematch of the FA Women’s Cup Final was at hand as Manchester City and Everton faced off on Sunday morning at Walton Hall Park in Liverpool. Ahead of the match, each team had something to prove — for Manchester City, it was cementing their status as a “Big Three” squad, and for Everton, it was holding onto their position at fourth place in the table, with only one game giving them an edge over City. Manchester City would put on one of their most dominant performances of the year to run away with a 3-0 victory over Everton, improving to 4-3-1 on the 2020/2021 season.

Interestingly, City manager Gareth Taylor elected to leave the key players of his team’s recent FA Cup Final victory over Everton on the bench to begin the match — among those names being Sam Mewis, Georgia Stanway, Chloe Kelly, and Alex Greenwood. Though the exclusion of these players from the starting lineup is unfortunate, it seems that Taylor at least took notice of Rose Lavelle’s performance in the recent USWNT friendly, as she was granted a start in Sunday’s contest.

Here’s how it all went down: 

From the opening whistle, Manchester City maintained possession in their attacking third, creating a scoring chance only two minutes into the match. To begin the attack, Janine Beckie slipped a pass to defender Demi Stokes, who had broken away from the Everton player marking her on the left wing. Stokes took a touch, attempting a shot but instead slotting a ball across the face of the net. Nearly getting a foot on the attempt was Ellen White, but no dice as she collided with Everton goalkeeper Alexandra MacIver and the ball exited out of bounds.

White would go on to redeem the missed chance midway through the first half, as Caroline Weir lofted a cross into the Everton box, meeting the head of the forward. Redirecting a looping ball just over the fingertips of MacIver, White scored her fourth goal of the season to grant City a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute of the match.

Only a minute later, City was awarded a corner kick, with Weir on the ball again. This time, the cross found Gemma Banner, who headed home another for City to extend their lead to 2-0 in the 26th minute. In a quick series of events, Everton found themselves down two goals and yet to create a promising attack, now scrambling to cut City’s lead going into the half.

Later, in what seemed to be an opportunity for City’s third goal of the game, Janine Beckie received a pass into space, beating the defender on her back in a show of her speed and skill on the ball. Unfortunately for Beckie, her shot was buried into the side netting, bringing to demise a near-chance for her squad.

In the final minute of the first half, Weir played yet another cross into the Everton box. Finally, Janine Beckie was rewarded for her efforts on offense, meeting the ball in the air and knocking in City’s third goal to end the half. Weir ended the first half with two assists, and was an integral part of her squad’s dazzling performance.

Unfortunately for City, what was otherwise a flawless half ended with Rose Lavelle going down with an apparent knee injury. After the game, manager Gareth Taylor said it was still too soon to know the severity of the injury. (We’re keeping our fingers crossed.)

Everton needed to enter the second half with guns blazing, however, the better part of the second half was purely defensive for both sides. Through nearly 70 minutes of play, neither team was able to find the net, with any chance at marking the scoresheet either cleared out by a defender or swept up by the goalkeeper.

In the 80th minute, Everton forward Nicoline SØrensen played a cross into the Manchester City box, intended for Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah. Boye-Hlorkah redirected the cross towards the goal, but the header fell directly into the hands of City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck. Though certainly a near-chance for the Blues, it would not be enough to get them on the board.

As the final minutes of stoppage time ticked away, Everton worked desperately to cut into City’s lead, but to no avail.

Everton remains unable to defeat City this year, losing every match against their opponent since January 11th. With Sunday’s loss, Everton falls to fifth place in the table. As the season continues to take shape, the squad will have to solve their struggles with finding the net if they are to secure any wins in upcoming matches.

City, on the other hand, secured three points to move into fourth place. They’ll now have a chance to edge into the top three when they take on Arsenal next weekend. After battling inconsistency earlier in the season, it seems that the powerhouse we once knew City to be is beginning to resurface. Today’s stellar performance leaves no question as to whether they belong in the “Big Three” — now they just need to prove it in the table.


December 9th:

Bristol City vs. Aston Villa @ 2:30 p.m. EST

December 13th:

Reading FC vs. Manchester United @ 7:30 a.m. EST

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Birmingham City vs. Everton @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Tottenham vs. Aston Villa @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Bristol City vs. West Ham United @ 9:00 a.m. EST

Manchester City vs. Arsenal @ 9:30 a.m. EST