Casey Stoney

Casey: The next game is our toughest test

Friday 13 November 2020 17:12

Casey Stoney and Jackie Groenen have shared their thoughts as Manchester United Women prepare for this Saturday's Women’s Super League derby against Manchester City at Leigh Sports Village.

The Reds sit top of the WSL after six matchdays, having beaten Arsenal last time out. That league win was the fifth in succession for Casey Stoney’s side’s, who go into the derby full of confidence after a strong start to the season.

“It’s extremely positive,” Stoney said, when asked about the spirit in the squad.

“The players played really hard, very well [against Arsenal]. It was a good performance but we don’t leave too much time for celebration. It’s about the next game now, going again and getting as much as we can out of that game against City.”

“We’re always about winning the next game and the next game is our toughest test in terms of it's Man City," the boss said. 

"Arsenal was [previously] our toughest test, we won that, so we ticked that box. Now, we go on to Man City and it’s a really big test for us in terms of our squad and our capabilities, but one that I’m more than confident will be able to take on.

“I know that we have got the work ethic, I know that we can use the ball well. We can keep clean sheets against the best, we’ve proved that last Sunday and we need to do the same again.”

Manchester City sit fifth in the WSL but come into the derby following an 8-1 win over Brighton. Stoney expects a tough test this weekend.

“I think Man City have got momentum at the moment,” our manager said. “I think they’re a very good side coming off the back of a very good FA Cup win.”

“They can score goals, they have got very good players, so we’re going to need to be very defensively disciplined again. We need to make sure that we are at our best because it’s going to take our best performance to get points. I’m expecting a good game of football.”

Stoney also emphasises the importance of the Manchester derby in the women’s game, saying it’s grown quickly in short time.

“Absolutely. Not having our fans there is sad really, in terms of the rivalry. We know it’s a Manchester derby, we know how important this game is to the club, to the fans and to our players and we will do everything to prepare to win.

Jackie Groenen, who made her debut for United at the Etihad Stadium last season, is looking forward to another test against our crosstown rivals.

“I think it’s a big difference compared to last season,” the midfielder said.

“Last season I think we were trying to box our way into the top three, whereas I think we should now consider ourselves part of the top three or top four, however you want to call it. We can make a very big stand and can have a big result on Saturday, especially to make the result last Sunday last really count.”

Although fans will not be allowed inside Leigh Sports Village for Saturday’s lunch time kick-off, Groenen says she will still know how much this game means to the supporters.

“I notice it with my friends, who say 'Oh it’s a big one, you play City next week.' It’s something that’s growing in the women’s game. I think it was already there with the players a little bit,” our no. 14 said.

“I remember when I played my first game and it was City away, people could not stop speaking about it. I’ve noticed it’s coming from outside a little bit now as well. My uncle texted me saying 'It’s City next week, get prepared', so people are excited about it. I like that, it’s a good sort of rivalry, you want to fight for the club.”

HOW TO WATCH

United v Manchester City in the WSL kicks off at 12:30 GMT on Saturday and will be shown live in the UK on BT Sport - and for free on BT Sport's YouTube channel.

The full match will then be shown on MUTV from 14:30 GMT.

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