It is set to be Manchester United’s biggest test of the season so far as the Reds, who are currently sitting top of the table, face title holders Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village.
Last season, United suffered their biggest-ever WSL defeat as they lost to Chelsea 6-1 at home.
Marc Skinner has urged his side to show their maturity and how much they have evolved in front of a crowd that is expected to break their previous attendance records.
Reflecting on last season’s defeat he said, “Sometimes you have to take those punches to understand and know exactly where you’re at. For us, it was a devastating result of course but it was our third game in.”
He continued, “Chelsea were ruthless on the day which we know they can be. We’re well aware of their goal threat. We’re a different team but I want us to show that.”
United have won every one of their WSL games this season and kept a clean sheet throughout.
“It’s all well and good me talking about that here but I want my team to show their maturity and energy in this game,” he continued.
“We know how difficult a task is, they have some wonderful players and historically they are one of the best teams in the WSL. But I think it’s for us to go on and choose how we impose ourselves. We need to be confident, not complacent.”
Several new signings at United have helped to bridge the gap from last season. 20-year old Maya Le Tissier has been solid at the back and scored two goals on her competitive debut for the club.
“She’s a very talented young player but has stepped above and beyond her years in maturity and she shows that. All she’s got to do is enjoy these moments. Go and enjoy the camp, go and step up and show her qualities.”
Nikita Parris, who was a part of that Lionesses squad that won the Euros has already found herself on the scoresheet too.
Rachel Williams who hasn’t yet found the goal has made a huge difference in games as a second-half sub, injecting a boost of energy and passion into the Red’s play before they become too complacent.
“It was actually carefully designing what each person might bring for us. For example, if we need to go into a physical battle with a team – and Chelsea are a very physical team – we know a Rachel Williams can frighten most people.”
“It’s really important we have variance and ability to do that.”
England and United’s first-choice keeper Mary Earps, has pulled off some fine saves so far this season to maintain United’s unbeaten record.
When she starts against Chelsea, she will become the first goalkeeper to make her 150th WSL appearance.
Skinner comments, “I’m a huge admirer of what Mary has done in the last year since I’ve been in charge. With Mary, she gives us so much stability to build on.”
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven games across all competitions despite having a shaky start to the season when they lost to newly promoted side Liverpool on the opening weekend.
It’s likely that former Red, Lauren James, who has been in good form this season, will start for Chelsea.
If United can get some points against Chelsea, it will lay down the gauntlet for the top sides for the rest of the season.