Manchester City Women get their 2017-18 season underway with a trip to Somerset that sees them face newly-promoted side Yeovil Town Ladies.
The two teams will meet for just the second time, with City having comprehensively beaten the hosts 5-1 at the Academy Stadium when the two sides first met in the Spring Series this May.
Doubts have been cast over City’s ability to mount a title challenge this season due to a weakened squad, with many predicting that the Blues will finish 3rd behind Chelsea Ladies and Arsenal Women. Granted, City’s closest rivals have strengthened whilst City haven’t, but the fixture provides City with an opportunity to set a positive tone for the season should they run out as winners. City know more than most that winning breeds winning after going unbeaten on their way to winning the 2016 league title, and so starting the new season with a win could be all City need to get a successful season underway.
City can’t afford to sit back and expect an easy win over weaker opposition, though. There were many times last season when City would build play patiently from the back only for moves to break down in the final third after poor attacking play. Patient build-ups are beautiful when goals are scored as a result, but City aren’t a side that score a lot of goals and so their patient build-ups often frustrate rather than inspire. Teams are wiser to City’s tactics and will no doubt adapt their play more successfully this season in order to frustrate the Blues. City need to tweak their approach this seaso and the arrival of Pauline Bremer could be key to this. The young, talented German could make her WSL debut against Yeovil, and it’d be brilliant if she could open her account as soon as possible and become the goalscorer that City have desperately needed for so long.
In team news, City are without a swathe of players (water is wet etc). Karen Bardsley, Jen Beattie, Mie Leth Jans and Mel Lawley are all out of contention with injuries. Beattie recently started to run again during City’s trip to Toulouse in pre-season, but there have been no injury updates for the others that are on the treatment table. Last season was incredibly frustrating with the amount of injuries the team suffered, but the current injury situation is more worrying due to City’s thin squad. On a positive note, Meg Campbell isn’t a part of the Manchester City Women Boot Club ™ for once and is fit to start. Amazing!
Key player: Jill Scott. The England international was City’s driving force last season and there’s no reason why she can’t reprise that role this season. Scott’s driving runs so often transition City from defence to attack and her ability to score with her head may come in handy as Yeovil are likely to concede a lot of set-pieces.
Score prediction: Man City Women 3 – 0 Yeovil
City XI: Check out our article here on who we think will start against Yeovil.
KO: 2pm, Huish Park.