A Quick Look at the FAWSL So Far

Relegation Battle

There are still two sides in the WSL who are yet to win, bottom-placed Bristol City and 2nd from bottom Liverpool.

The real question seems to be whether or not Liverpool can improve to make sure there’s not an actual relegation battle. Bristol City have the worst xGD in the division but the big difference in the two sides comes when looking at the xT numbers.

For xT Difference there’s a bigger gap between Bristol City and next lowest Brighton than there is between Brighton and 4th placed Reading. @footballfactman mentioned  on the opening weekend that if Bristol City aren’t careful they could become the new Yeovil, but Liverpool’s poor start to the season could give Bristol some hope they can stay up.

Liverpool have the 3rd worst xGD in the division and, like Birmingham, have struggled to create good goalscoring chances. @mostlyinane wrote about some of their struggles, particularly in creating good chances, on StatBomb. What makes it more frustrating for Liverpool is they possess some talented individuals and are capable of being better, with their performance in the Merseyside derby being a minor positive of the season so far.

They have an experienced striker in Courtney Sweetman-Kirk while the younger trio of Rinsola Babajide, Melissa Lawley and Niamh Charles all put forward strong numbers for carrying the ball. Watching Liverpool it can sometimes feel like they’re too individualistic when they attack. The three names just mentioned have the biggest average carry distance for all players in the league.

Looking at carries that come from counter-attacking situations Liverpool have the greatest average carry distance and worst xG per shot, suggesting their counters consist more of one player on a lone run taking a low quality shot more than a fast-paced team move to hurt a team in transition. This is a huge assumption but it’s looked true from a lot of what I’ve seen from Liverpool.

The pace and dribbling ability of players like Lawley, Charles and Babajide could help make Liverpool a dangerous counter-attacking side, but so far it hasn’t been the case.

Fortunately for Liverpool, Bristol City haven’t offered much this season. @EveryTeam_Mark tweeted that they have the highest proportion of passes from their ‘keeper and it’s not surprising based on what I’ve seen of them. It feels like they play out from the back, before passing around the defence for a few moments before sending a hopeful ball long.

It seems unlikely that they’ll be able to turn their form around, but one positive from the first half of the season has been 18-year-old Ebony Salmon. Excluding players from the top three for a moment, Salmon has the 5th best xG + xA per 90 and 11th best xT per 90.

It’s hard to see anything other than Bristol City finishing bottom, but if Liverpool can’t improve going forward it may not be so clear-cut.

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