When Brian Sorensen was unveiled as the new Everton boss last spring, he outlined his ambition to get the club "back where it belongs".
The Dane's arrival on Merseyside followed a turbulent campaign that saw Everton finish 10th after the dismissal of managers Willie Kirk and Jean-Luc Vasseur. The need to steady the ship and instil an identity into a squad that - for much of last season - lacked cohesion was acute.
The summer transfer window saw a huge overhaul of personnel, with nine depatures and ten new arrivals before September's deadline day. Everton now boast the youngest average starting XI in the Women's Super League and, while there is still a long way to go before the club is competing for the highest honours in the women's game, Sorensen does seem to have built a side that is very much heading in the right direction.
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When Lisa Evans headed home to hand West Ham the three points in Everton's season opener, it seemed like the Blues were bound to continue their poor form in the WSL. Despite the result, it had been a promising performance from Sorensen's side who had enjoyed more shots, more shots on target and considerably more posession than their East London opponents.
And if there was ever a way to bounce back from a disappointing defeat, then an emphatic win over your local rivals in front of a raucous Anfield crowd is it. Goals from Megan Finnigan, Jess Park and Hanna Bennison sealed victory in the Merseyside derby and gave a glimpse of exactly what Everton could achieve under their new manager.
The Blues made it back-to-back victories with a win over Leicester City, with Kirsty Levell's own goal in added time enough to secure Everton the points at Walton Hall Park.
Everton's sternest test of the season so far came against reigning champions Chelsea, who were looking to make it three wins in a row following victories over Manchester City and West Ham.
Everton were competitive for much of the contest before a stoppage-time goal from Niamh Charles ensured the three points headed back to the capital. However, the Toffees bounced back admirably in their next league outing against Aston Villa, with captain Lucy Graham's strike enough to hand Sorensen's side the win.
It marked the first of Everton's two meetings with the Villans in a matter of days, with the two sides going head to head again in the Continental League Cup. With things all square after 90 minutes, goalkeeping heroics from Manchester United loanee Emily Ramsey saw Everton triumph in the shootout and earn a crucial bonus point to kickstart their cup campaign.
The Blues closed out the month with a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United. Marc Skinner's side dominated at Walton Park, with Brian Sorensen describing the display as a "wake up call" for his squad.
The last-minute postponement of Everton's trip to Tottenham as well as the international break meant the Blues were in action just twice in November.
The first of those games ended in defeat as goals from Julie Blakstad and Khadija Shaw handed Manchester City the three points at Walton Hall Park; Everton registering three consecutive home defeats for the first time since April 2019.
The Blues did, however, continue their impressive away form as goals from Katja Snoeijs, Hanna Bennison and Jess Park - fresh from scoring just 79 seconds into her England debut - helped Everton dispatch Sheffield United in the Conti Cup.
Everton's challenging run of league fixtures continued into December with a trip to title hopefuls Arsenal at Meadow Park. Vivianne Miedma's first half strike was enough to seal victory for the Gunners, although the Toffees aquitted themselves well in the capital - spurning a flurry of chances to restore parity in stoppage time.
The squad was also boosted by the return of forward Nicoline Sorensen, who came off the bench against Arsenal after more than 14 months out with an ACL injury. And Sorensen proved instrumental in Everton's victory over Tottenham before the winter break.
The Dane set up Katja Snoeijs to give the Blues an early lead at Brisbane Road before goals from Jess Park and Gio capped off an impressive win. The result also saw Everton move into the top half of the table, standing them in good stead ahead of the business end of the season.
It wasn't to be in Conti Cup though, as defeats against Manchester United and Durham saw the Toffees crash out of the competition at the group stages.
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