It was a successful afternoon for the Blues as they comfortably beat newly-promoted outfit Yeovil Town Ladies 4-0. In truth, City barely got out of second gear such was their dominance throughout the game and could’ve doubled the scoreline.
We took a look at 4 things that stood out to us during the game.
1 Losing Lucy Bronze might not be as bad as we all feared
There’s been a grey, depressing cloud hanging over the club since Lucy Bronze swapped City for Olympique Lyonnais in August, with some fans even threatening to stop attending games altogether. While that’s a little extreme, the worry that a lot of City’s fanbase feel is understandable – that City is a much-weakened side as a result of her departure.
True, you can never really compensate for losing a world-class player, and Bronze is probably the best right-back in the world right now, but City fans can take some solace in the performance put in by Abbie McManus on Sunday.
Granted, City travelled to a Yeovil side that struggled to get out of their own half for large parts of the game, but McManus put in a strong showing. Neat, quick passing between herself, Houghton and Emslie kept play fluid down City’s right and McManus was defensively solid on the rare occasions she was called upon.
McManus doesn’t have the pace or attacking threat of Bronze, but it’s not like City have downgraded from a Rolls Royce to an old Nissan Micra – McManus can defend well and is capable of supporting City’s attacking players from deep when needed. To replace the attacking threat Bronze has taken with her to France, the onus should be on the Blues’ attacking players to improve, not McManus; their often-shocking forward play was covered up by Bronze’s brilliance on numerous occasions last season and that can’t continue if City want to be successful.
Remember, McManus filled in at right-back when Bronze was injured in 2015 and City didn’t implode.
2 Beattie is back
Welcome back Jen Beattie
It seemed like Jen Beattie was starting to turn into the sort of player who’d be constantly locked in a cycle of picking up an injury, returning to fitness and then getting injured a short while after returning.
Beattie was all set to head to the Euros with Scotland but picked up an injury in their last training session before heading out to the Netherlands that kept her out for more than 3 months.
Having only just started to run again in late August, it didn’t look like the defender would return to the side so soon, but it was a surprise when she was named in the starting XI.
Beattie lined up alongside Houghton in the heart of City’s defence, a partnership that was instrumental in conceding just 4 goals as City won the 2016 WSL 1 title, and didn’t put a foot wrong all game. Jen looked fit and sharp, something that couldn’t be said on her previous return from injury towards the end of the Spring Series, and joined in with City’s display of passing dominance by spraying passes across the park throughout the game.
If Beattie can stay fit all season it’ll be a huge boost for the Blues.
3 Izzy is reborn
Izzy scores from the spot
Often at less than her best last season, Christiansen looked tireless in the centre of midfield from start to finish. With the departures of Carli Lloyd, Toni Duggan and Kosovare Asllani, it seems as though Christiansen has realised that this is her chance to shine.
Christiansen constantly provided support up the wings, played in through-balls to Ross and Parris and was a willing runner for 94 minutes – a great display that was rounded off by her opening goal from the spot after 7 minutes.
If she continues playing like that it’ll be difficult for anyone to replace her in that role.
4 Everybody loves Emslie
Emslie’s mesmerising run to assist Jane Ross
What a domestic debut! After scoring on her Scotland debut just over a week ago, Claire Emslie continued her form in a purple shirt (yes, City wore the away kit!). The Blues’ new signing impressed throughout, making pacey, driven runs up the right wing all game.
The standout moment of the match was her mazy run beyond two of Yeovil’s players before cutting the ball back to Jane Ross, who finished the chance off with a cheeky back-heel.
Emslie almost had a perfect POTM performance after going close in the second half, but her shot was held by Yeovil ‘keeper Megan Walsh. However, two assists on your debut isn’t bad!
After the game, Emslie spoke about her delight in signing for the Blues and it certainly seems that City have got a very promising player on their hands.
A special shout out goes to Esme Morgan who made her WSL debut at just 16 years old having made her senior City debut in Toulouse in August.
FT: Yeovil Town Ladies 0 – 4 Man City Women (Christiansen ‘7, Ross ’37, Scott ’59, Stanway ’83).