Zelem: We're ready for the derby
On Sunday, Manchester United Women take on neighbours Manchester City in the WSL, at the Etihad Stadium.
The blockbuster clash, which kicks off at 12:30 GMT, sees two of the leagues top four sides lock horns. But this one is about more than just three points.
Before the match, United captain Katie Zelem and head coach Marc Skinner sat down with MUTV’s Zarah Connolly to preview the fixture, and Manchester-born Zelem is looking forward to it in particular.
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“Yeah, I can’t wait,” she said. “We all know what Manchester derbies are about and we’ve got a few new players in the team this year so it’s about telling them what the experience is going to be like.
“Playing at the Etihad especially will make the atmosphere even better.”
The fixture is yet another opportunity for our women’s team to play at a Premier League stadium, with the Reds having played at both the Emirates Stadium and our very own Old Trafford in recent weeks.
“They’re coming thick and fast,” the United captain said of the headline encounters at iconic arenas.
“This is exactly what you want as a professional footballer; to be showcasing your skills on the biggest platforms.
“For us to play in these amazing stadiums is [great and] the pitches are always fantastic. It’s the third one now and we’re ready for it.”
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United's head coach, Skinner, is also eager for the clash, but maintains that his side mustn’t get wrapped up in the emotion of the derby and instead focus on applying the methods they work on in the build-up to the game.
“Of course being a derby [it has more emotion], but hopefully we show the growth we’ve made as a team,” he said. “The psychological growth is huge.
“As a team, we have to go there – it’s going to be intimidating but we need to make sure we use that to our advantage – and just put in a Manchester United performance. That’s what we’re asking for. We know what that is now, and we have to make sure that we put it into practice in this game.”
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“We have to show the amount of aggression needed to win a game like this. We have to show the mental focus needed to win a game like this and all of our energy will be going into that.
“It’s a hard one because the balance and the emotion we understand it, we feel it. We have to make sure that we use it in the right way, and we have every capability to beat anyone on our day.
“All of our energy will go into our performance because then we can give something the fans will be proud of.”
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