Women’s Super League: Five talking points as Old Trafford hosts first Manchester derby

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27,919 fans were in attendance when Manchester United last played at Old Trafford in a 4-0 win over West Ham in April

It is “not just an ordinary game” for Manchester United as they welcome neighbours Manchester City to Old Trafford this weekend in the Women’s Super League.

Over 40,000 tickets have already been sold as United, unbeaten this season, take on a City side who suffered an unexpected defeat at the hands of Brighton last time out.

Away from Manchester, league leaders Chelsea host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge as Emma Hayes’ side look to extend their unbeaten run in her first game since her deal to manage the United States from the end of this season was confirmed.

Here are the main talking points before the weekend’s games.

‘Unbelievable’ Old Trafford derby on the way

This weekend will be the fifth time Manchester United have played at Old Trafford, but players continue to view the opportunity as a privilege.

“I feel like the word that I’ve been using is unbelievable,” United defender Jayde Riviere told the BBC World Service.

“I’d say if you asked me when I was younger that I’d ever be able to play at Old Trafford I would have thought you were pulling my leg for sure.”

A derby day clash in front of a sizable home support will require United to be at their very best, but Riviere thinks they will thrive in that environment.

“I think whenever you’re in a derby external pressure applies to it as well because it’s just not an ordinary game,” she added.

“I think this team thrives under pressure and I think that this team thrives under adversity.”

The occasion in itself is important but this could be another pivotal tie for City with the Blues clinging on to their title hopes after last weekend’s defeat.

They’ve already lost two matches after just six games – and no team has ever gone on to win the title after more than two defeats.

Can Chelsea maintain bright start?

Women’s Super League: Chelsea v Liverpool

Venue: Stamford Bridge, London Date: Saturday, 18 November Time: 13:30 GMT

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Chelsea are on the hunt for an unprecedented fifth successive WSL title and they’ve had a strong start to this season.

They’re currently three points ahead of second-placed Arsenal and have only failed to win one of their first six games – a 1-1 draw with Manchester City in October.

The Blues face a potentially dangerous text against Liverpool live on BBC One on Saturday, with the Reds beating Arsenal on the opening day in front of a bumper Emirate Stadium crowd.

European action was frustrating for Chelsea in midweek after controversial refereeing decisions resulted in them being held to a draw by Real Madrid and they’ll be looking to bounce back to winning ways.

Everton start to the season

It hasn’t been the start to the season Everton would have wanted.

They’ve only managed four points from their first six games, but facing bottom-placed Bristol City at the weekend could be a chance for the Blues to build momentum.

The Toffees were beaten by Chelsea last time out but manager Brian Sorensen thought positives could be taken from their performance against the league leaders.

“It’s been a tough run but I think we put in a good display against Chelsea last weekend, [we]allowed them very few chances,” he said.

“They still managed to score a few goals because of their unbelievable quality, but you look at the game and we were pleased with a lot of stuff. We want to try and take that positive thing into the Bristol game.”

Their record from open play will need to be rectified if they are to improve – Everton haven’t scored from open-play yet, with their three goals coming from two corners and a penalty.

Can Villa get going?

Some had tipped Aston Villa to threaten the well-established top four in the WSL after last season’s fifth-placed finish, but that definitely hasn’t been the case so far.

Villa picked up their first points of the season when they beat Bristol City last weekend, having lost each of their five games before that.

Pressure was mounting on Villa boss Carla Ward before they finally got off the mark last time out – will they be able to build on that result against West Ham on Sunday and jump-start their season?

“Three points at the weekend and results go in a different direction,” Ward said. “All of a sudden you jump up three places in the table and the conversation changes. If you win the next two games, you could be in the top six or seven by the end of the month.

“The reality is in the WSL, everyone can beat anyone. You will go on runs when you win games and runs when you lose games – it’s making sure you don’t lose too many and fall behind.

“We have to make sure we understand where we’re at, what we can achieve and I think we can still do that by the end of the season.”

Will Spurs’ rise get back on track?

Tottenham have been this season’s surprise package and sit fourth in the Women’s Super League going into this weekend’s games.

They recorded three successive wins after their opening day defeat by Chelsea, although they’ve since drawn back-to-back games against Everton and Liverpool.

“I’m still very happy with the performances and the way we play so the result is not the best the last two games, but the performance is quite good and we create chances and have possession and look like the way we want to play,” said manager Robert Vilahamn.

“The result has not been the best the last two games but the performance is good and the players are taking steps. It’s a part of the journey we do and I’m not stressed about it.”

Spurs face Leicester City this weekend in their final game before a significant increase in fixture difficulty, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal also on the way before the winter break.


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