Liverpool has clear Champions League aim as 10-game spell offers exciting future glimpse

Liverpool beat Leicester 4-0 on the final day to secure top four
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Marc Atkins - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

After eight months, 132 games and 437 goals, the Women's Super League (WSL) season is officially over. And what a season it has been for Liverpool.

In just their second season back in the top flight, the Reds have managed to secure a top-four finish. And, while there is no tangible reward four finishing fourth only the top three teams in the WSL qualify for Europe — it remains a huge statement of intent from Matt Beard's side, who finished seventh last term.

It was a campaign that started with a flourish; Liverpool beating title-hopefuls Arsenal at the Emirates on the opening day. It was the first of many memorable away days for the Reds and a reminder of the heady heights that could be reached if they continued on their encouraging trajectory.

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After that, though, it wasn't all plain sailing. Liverpool won just two of their next six games, losing to Everton in the Merseyside derby and suffering a chastening 5-1 reverse against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

"We can’t let today define us," Beard said after the latter. "We need to learn from it. We need to obviously go through the goals, look at the clips, show the players the options they have when we debrief. But we’re not going to let today define all the hard work that we’ve done."

It was a sentiment shared by his players, who responded to the setback in emphatic fashion with a 4-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion before beating United 2-1 at Leigh Sports Village a few weeks later. It was against Marc Skinner's side 11 months prior that Liverpool had suffered one of their most painful defeats since their WSL return and so it was fitting the Reds should end the calendar year at the same venue, this time securing their first-ever win over their bitter rivals.

And Liverpool has gone from strength to strength since the turn of the year, doing the double over United and securing a memorable win against Chelsea at Prenton Park. They have lost just one of their last 10 WSL games, winning seven of them. In that period, the Reds have amassed 23 points, with only Manchester City (27) and champions Chelsea (24) having picked up more.

It is an encouraging statistic ahead of a season when Liverpool's objective must surely be to challenge for a Champions League place. "It's a big turnaround if you look at last year," Beard, who was this week named WSL Manager of the Season, told club media after Saturday's win at the King Power.

"Last year we knew that we were good enough to stay in the division (and) this year was about kicking on. I just think from our end we signed a young squad, every time we had a wobble we regrouped and just got on with it. I think (it's) the beauty of the group's mentality."

Certainly, Liverpool's mentality has been second to none this term and it is exciting to think how far this team can go. There is, of course, plenty of hard work still left to do but, as the sun sets on this season, the Reds' future looks very bright indeed. The next challenge? To make the Champions League.