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Marc Skinner urges Manchester United to mix arrogance with confidence in derby

Marc Skinner
(Image credit: Martin Rickett)

Manchester United head coach Marc Skinner says his players must strike the perfect balance between “arrogance and confidence” in Sunday’s derby clash at Manchester City.

United are chasing their first Women’s Super League win against their neighbours at the sixth attempt, but sit third in the table, five points ahead of City, who are sixth.

Skinner’s side beat City 2-1 in the League Cup in November after drawing the reverse league fixture 2-2 in October.

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“We need a very fine balance between arrogance and confidence,” Skinner said. “You have to strike that balance because we know they will probably dominate the ball.

“They’ve played with the same ideas for a long time now. For us it’s about understanding that at times we might have to counter-attack.

“At times we might have to build with confidence and composure and if we get that balance right, we’ll have a very good chance of getting what we want out of the game, which is obviously a victory.”

City have struggled to mount their customary title challenge so far this season, but Skinner warned they are now a different proposition with all bar captain Steph Houghton fit and available.

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“They’ll be in a different head space,” Skinner added. “It will be a different game to the previous two.

“Man City want to beat us regardless of the prior results this season, of course they do, it’s a derby and each team wants to win.”

City slipped to their first defeat in 10 games in all competitions last Sunday, losing 1-0 at reigning champions Chelsea, and will be without Houghton again as she recovers from an Achilles injury.

City manager Gareth Taylor said: “Everyone recognises the importance of the game for us, to claw back ground and stay in the hunt.

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton remains sidelined due to an Achilles injury

Manchester City and England captain Steph Houghton remains sidelined due to an Achilles injury (Nick Potts/PA)

“If we don’t, the distance is bigger. We’re still capable of going on a run and if we do that from this game onwards we’ll be OK, but we don’t want the gap to get bigger, especially in a 22-game season.

“It makes it a bit of an uphill battle, not unachievable but we recognise the importance of this game this weekend.”

United will bid to close the gap on the top two to a single point with victory after leaders Arsenal and Chelsea drew 0-0 on Friday night.

If United slip up, Tottenham could leapfrog them into third place with victory at bottom club Birmingham, whose solitary league win of the season came in last month’s shock 2-1 upset of Arsenal.

Everton are aiming to avoid a fourth straight league defeat in their home game against Aston Villa, while Reading hope to maintain their top-three challenge at Brighton.

Second-bottom Leicester play West Ham at home in Saturday’s other fixture, with the visitors chasing a third league win in four.

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