Manchester United vs Manchester City: 5 things to watch in Continental Cup clash

Who will come out on top in the Manchester Derby?

Vital group-stage points are up for grabs tonight as Manchester United host Manchester City in the Continental Cup at Leigh Sports Village.

Despite their league form, Manchester City sit top of Group B following two comprehensive wins over Durham and Everton.

Meanwhile, Manchester United, will be looking to improve after scraping to a penalty shootout win over Championship side Durham in their sole League Cup fixture.

So, what should you keep an eye on?

Pressure on for Gareth Taylor

It really is now or never for Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor, who is surely feeling the heat following his side’s woeful start to the WSL.

Injuries have certainly played a part, with Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze amongst the players on a seemingly never ending injury list.

How much more time will Gareth Taylor get at City?

However, a 4-0 defeat by Chelsea once more showed the issues at play, with City now ninth in the WSL having taken seven points from seven games.

Once again it was a makeshift eleven from Taylor, with England internationals Georgia Stanway and Jill Scott playing in defence.

And, despite having the same amount of shots as their opponents, Chelsea easily won away at Manchester City for the first time in the WSL.

After the loss, Taylor said: “We looked in control but were punished by a good team. Make those mistakes against a team like Chelsea and they will punish you.

“We keep moving forward – teams are taking points off each other and we have to stay in the mix.

“I thought our first-half performance was one of the best we’ve had.”

Could the Manchester Derby be a chance for Taylor’s side to turn it around?

City’s goalkeeping issues

Third choice keeper Benameur Taieb, who signed a two-year contract extension in 2020, has been thrust into the starting eleven after injuries to Ellie Roebuck and Karen Bardsley.

This season, Taieb has struggled. Once more, after a difficult afternoon against Chelsea, her confidence looked in tatters.

Who will play in goal for City tonight?

Inside two minutes, the City keeper’s misplaced pass allowed Jessie Fleming to score with ease.

Later, her positioning was at fault for Chelsea’s second and third. Taieb also failed to deal with a corner whipped in under her crossbar as Magdalena Eriksson headed in Chelsea’s fourth.

City’s injuries mean there isn’t an obvious option for Taylor to turn to.

But, with Taieb’s form, it would not be a surprise if City handed a debut to sixteen-year-old Grace Pilling in one of their next few matches.

Ella Toone

Ella Toone is a special player and one who could have a decent evening exploiting a makeshift City defence.

The PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for October has been amongst the goals this season, scoring three and assisting four in her first seven matches in the WSL this year.

Last weekend, Toone showed her talent as she expertly finished from the edge of the box for Manchester United’s opener against Everton.

If Toone plays tonight, she will certainly fancy grabbing the headlines in the local derby.

Georgia Stanway 

Last time Manchester City played Manchester United, Georgia Stanway was sent-off as both sides played out an enthralling 2-2 in the WSL.

Stanway was given a straight red card following a late tackle on Lean Galton, with Ellen White somehow snatching a late point for City.

Can Stanway bounce back?

There is no doubt that Stanway will be crucial if Manchester City are to put their recent defensive mishaps behind them and beat Manchester United tonight.

Despite her red-card, the 22-year-old has been one of City’s better performers, even in an unfamiliar role at right-back.

Her experience may prove to be the difference.

Will United prioritise the WSL?

Against Durham, Manchester United made plenty of changes, with Ella Toone just one of the notable players absent from the starting eleven.

A Manchester Derby is perhaps a different proposition. With City struggling, Marc Skinner may feel now is the chance to upset their local rivals.

Will Marc Skinner lead United to a derby upset?

Yet, Manchester United’s start to the WSL leaves them just three points off third place – a spot that would see them qualify for next year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.

With City sitting in ninth, the final Champions League spot looks to be heading to either Brighton, Tottenham or United themselves.

Lacking the depth of squads such as Arsenal, Chelsea and City, Skinner may be tempted to rest a few key players ahead of Sunday’s clash with WSL leaders Arsenal.

Can he risk dropping such talents in a derby though?

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