Manchester City host Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League for the first time. That by no means is saying the women’s rivalry has just been started, since the clubs have played each other in 21 competitive games over a history that spans nearly 30 years, but more so reignited resultant of the Red Devils’ promotion from the FA Women’s Championship last season.
United, who reformed ahead of last season, will be coming to the Etihad with a point to prove having risen from the second tier with such promise. Casey Stoney’s side won 18 times, drawing and losing once respectively in a campaign where they were a level above the rest.
Nick Cushing’s City side also lost just the once last season and pushed Arsenal for the trophy but five draws proved costly in their fight for the title, despite being unbeaten at the Academy Stadium as they finished second.
On the domestic front though, City won both the FA Cup and Continental Cup so a return to FA WSL glory will surely be top on the list of priorities come the end of next season.
To build on the boost to the women’s game from the World Cup, a Manchester derby seems the perfect way to provide fans with an intense, high-quality game with a lot on the line that should mean some first-time match-going fans retain their interest for further games this coming season and help increase attendances. Not only in Manchester but across the country as well.
City have confirmed that ticket sales have surpassed the 20,000 mark after selling out the entire bottom tier of the Etihad, whilst tickets on available blocks on the second tier continue to be bought ahead of the game.
The home side have heavily marketed tickets for game this week on social media and broadcast platforms- rightly so. With so many attending, that will only improve the atmosphere inside the ground and provide that extra edge to the game that a women’s derby hasn’t had until now.
There seems to be no fresh injuries for City ahead of the fixture. Bardsley remains injured and so too does Ellen White.
United have Emily Ramsey injured. They have also recently announced Katie Zelem as captain ahead of the game with former captain Alex Greenwood heading to Lyon as numerous City players have done in recent times.
(4-2-3-1) Roebuck; Mannion, Bonner, Houghton, Stokes; Walsh, Scott; Weir, Stanway, Hemp; Beckie
Prediction: Man City 3-1 Man United
Do not let the fact that United are fresh to the division fool you, despite their lack of experience they will still be looking to finish in the top half at the very least but will be aware of the challenges the league will hold.
Even still, City should have the quality and experience to win somewhat comfortably given the abundance of talent at Cushing’s disposal.
To start the season off in a positive manner against bitter rivals would be an ideal way to kickstart such an intriguing season.
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