‘We need to put everything into this fixture’, says Marc Skinner ahead of Manchester United’s tussle with Chelsea
MARC SKINNER wants Manchester United to show their “mental capacity” in their bid to thwart their title rivals.
And the Red Devils chief, 39, praised the form of Alessia Russo and Ona Batlle before United’s clash with Chelsea on Sunday.
Skinner’s league leaders face last term’s champions at Kingsmeadow in what could be a pivotal encounter in this season’s title chase.
And his players are targeting a first win against the Blues in the top tier, having drawn one and lost five of their previous six WSL duels.
Skinner, whose team crushed Leicester 5-1 last Sunday, said: “This game won’t define the title (race).
“But what it will do (for us) is we have to show that we have the mental capacity to go into these games and not fear an opponent.
“When we played them at home (in November) I felt it took us far too long (to get into the game).
“Both teams weren’t very good in the first half, but when we got into the second half we didn’t maximise our opportunities and potential.
“We’ve shown a lot of resilience and a lot of growth and I want to see that again in this game.
“We have been to this rodeo before. Their team will be fired up coming into this so we have to match that and if not go above it.”
Skinner’s starting 11 is likely to feature Russo and Batlle with both impressing in Man United’s rout of the Foxes last weekend.
Russo was on target in both halves becoming the first United player to net a WSL hat-trick.
The United boss added: “They are massive for us.
“Ona is especially so and Alessia is a huge part of what we do, so if they’re selected it will be a massive help for us.
“We can’t leave anything on the field so we need to make sure we have to put everything into this fixture.”
So far United remain the only side unbeaten on the road in the top tier this term.
The team have won six of their seven games away from home including a memorable 3-2 defeat of Arsenal last November.
They face a Chelsea side who could potentially be without Emma Hayes in the dugout.
The Kingsmeadow chief is recovering from a viral illness that saw her absent from her Friday afternoon press conference.
Blues general manager Paul Green said: “There will be regular communication if Emma wasn’t to make it as we did earlier in the season.
“She will have a direct ear-piece to (assistant manager) Denise (Reddy) on the side-line. We’re hoping she’ll be back.”
The Red Devils have scored 14 goals in their last five games across all competitions and with seven different goal scorers.
This season has seen Leah Galton score six times in 12 WSL games with Russo netting eight goals over the same number of fixtures.
Green added: “We know he’s a very talented player.
“She’s done very well for them and of course she’s going to be a threat, but I don’t think Manchester United are just down to one threat.
“They’ve got threats all over the pitch, similarly to what we have.
“As a team we’re going to have to defend well across the whole unit, from front to back.”
“That’s what we’ll be looking to do to keep Alessia quiet and the rest of the United squad.”
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