In the nicest way I can put this, Liz is a graceful destroyer. Five foot eleven inches tall, with sublime intelligence and purposeful dribbling. Ejupi’s command over the ball while in possession is masterful and entertaining to witness.
Ejupi has always been a talented player with a keen eye for goal. You only need to look at her goal to game record to know just how true that is. However, there is so much more to her game which is integral to the side than just goals.
From joining Sunderland in January 2023 from Durham Women, it has become evident that Liz is well established in the side. Steamrolling defences with her huge, space-invading movements, using her strength and height to hold the ball up to allow her teammates to join into the play and linking up excellently with the wingers.
Her fast transition from wall-pass to supporting run is her most thrilling aspect of association play; with a few quick, imposing strides, Ejupi nearly teleports into the opposing area. She is a dual threat from dead-ball scenarios, combining her movement to occupy the most dangerous positions in the box for the second ball with her long levers and finishing skill.
She is just as likely to reach a knockdown quickly in the second stage as she is to score straight from the first. However, if the Kosovan is just considered for her height, one of her best qualities — constantly sprinting in an effort to establish the best scoring position — is lost.
Should hopefully have this done soon, but doing a player analysis piece on @elizabetaejupi for @RokerReport. Whilst she doesn’t always get the accolades or plaudits, I feel like Liz has been an integral part of Sunderland since joining and contributes greatly to our overall play pic.twitter.com/XiKveGNXwK— Charlotte Patterson (@kirbyhazard) September 29, 2023
Ejupi’s off the ball movement and straight-line speed make her a menace in transition. When taking full advantage of her extreme stride length, she swallows up open space, creating huge separation from her opponents and dragging defensive lines into disarray. She is quite fast to adjust herself if teammates miss her first run through a defence. Constantly scanning, her ability to constantly create angles in relation to her teammates’ choices makes her impossible to mark, and her agility makes these positional resets look simple. By moving with such intelligence and tenacity, Ejupi is able to consistently generate opportunities for herself that are of the highest calibre.
She is a composite of the complete centre forward. Inside the box, her positioning is troublesome, mainly due to her stature and aerial reputation. Paired with razor-sharp finishing instinct, Ejupi is some sort of penalty box conversion monster.
For a woman of her height, Ejupi’s athleticism is quite jarring. The distance she creates between herself and her marker over a few yards is astounding. Separations are blown into existence with ease, as her long limbs swat away challenges and gobble up ground.
But it would be a disservice to focus solely on her attacking capabilities. A very underrated element of her game is her positioning and movements. These simple actions are key to supporting her teammates to overload the opposition. Ejupi will drop deep to receive the ball, shielding the ball from the chasing defender, drawing them out of position and waiting for the perfect opportunity to play in an onrushing wing-back on the overlap and get in behind. There was evidence of this at last weekend's game alone as she selflessly set up Louise Griffiths perfectly to cross the ball into the box for Mary McAteer to finish, when it would have been so easy for her to go for goal herself.
Ejupi’s passion and grit are evident to see in games as she leads from the front line, constantly harassing and pressing opposition defenders back towards their own goal and forcing them into a mistake. You can see her commanding her supporting wingers to join her in closing them down and this has paid dividends a plethora of times this season already.
Despite her talent, it is delightful to see Ejupi so dedicated and modest off the pitch. Her interviews are friendly, mature, and even cheeky to reflect her pleasant disposition and kind personality. Fans have taken notice of this and lauded the benefits of supporting the forward, praising her personality and character more than anything she accomplishes in the game.
The fact that Ejupi is unwavering in her self-belief as she enters the pitch is thrilling—or terrifying, depending on your viewpoint. She displays how important confidence is to her game in her goal-scoring, dribbling, and celebrations afterward.
She is most entertaining when she is stretching her legs, whether that be by angling her body to unleash a wicked shot or rushing towards the bench to receive a barrage of praise for the subsequent goal.
The rapport she has quickly developed with new summer signings in the likes of Katie Kitching, Jenna Dear and Mary McAteer in midfield and on the wings respectively, is impressive to see. She has excelled this season with a range of strike partners and reinforcements by her side. Her ability to embrace the various nuances and stylistic differences of her teammates is commendable, and encouraging for Sunderland fans to see.
Ejupi is a joy to watch and an integral part of this Sunderland team. Her experience, leadership, confidence and personality make her endearing to both teammates and fans.
She is truly a delight to have in the side.