Man Utd should be confident but not complacent against Chelsea – Marc Skinner

Manchester United boss Marc Skinner says his Women’s Super League table-toppers should be “confident but not complacent” heading into Sunday’s home clash with defending champions Chelsea.

United have a perfect record for the campaign so far of five wins from as many matches, while third-placed Chelsea also have 15 points, having played a game more.

The WSL meetings between the sides last term saw the Blues triumph 6-1 at Leigh Sports Village in September, then 4-2 at Kingsmeadow on the final day of the season – with United having led twice – as Chelsea sealed a third successive title.

Skinner, whose team finished 2021-22 in fourth place, told United’s official website: “We should be confident but not complacent, I think that’s the key message here.

“We know how good Chelsea have been historically in this league. We absolutely have respect for them. But it’s about making sure we impose ourselves on this game as we know we can.”

Asked how big a statement a win could make, Skinner said: “It could be huge. It’s important in these games that we stamp our maturity and our progression and our growth and we see that. We have to be ready, we have to give absolutely everything.”

With Chelsea boss Emma Hayes still recovering after a hysterectomy last month, Chelsea continue to be overseen by her assistant Denise Reddy and general manager Paul Green.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes (back, second right) in the stands during last Sunday's win over Aston Villa (Zac Goodwin/PA).
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes (back, second right) in the stands during last Sunday’s win over Aston Villa (Zac Goodwin/PA).

Hayes was in attendance for last weekend’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa, and Green told a press conference ahead of Sunday’s match: “Emma’s doing well. It was great that she was well enough to come to Kingsmeadow, and she’s getting better day by day. There’s still no date set in stone for her to return.

“She’ll take a decision on Sunday morning whether she’s going to come to the game or not. I think certainly after the international break she’ll be in a lot better place. We’ll welcome her back as soon as the date’s appropriate.”

Between United and Chelsea in the table are Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal, another side with a 100 per cent record after five games.

The Gunners – without Vivianne Miedema having given the Netherlands forward “some time off to rest and recharge” – travel to a Leicester outfit who are bottom of the table, yet to register a point and had a managerial change earlier in the week, with Lydia Bedford departing and Willie Kirk taking over.

New Leicester manager Willie Kirk (Adam Davy/PA).
Willie Kirk has taken charge at Leicester (Adam Davy/PA).

Bedford was not the only boss parting company with a WSL club in the last few days, Hope Powell having already stepped down at Brighton following Sunday’s 8-0 home thrashing at the hands of Tottenham.

The south coast outfit have Amy Merricks in interim charge for their match against West Ham in Dagenham.

West Ham are among four sides on nine points – the highest-placed of those is fourth-spotted Manchester City, who go to Reading looking for a fourth successive victory.

Spurs, in fifth, have alternated from wins to losses through their five games, and boss Rehanne Skinner said ahead of her side’s trip to sixth-place Everton: “I talk about consistency a lot. We can’t just throw an 8-0 out and then take our foot off the gas again.

“We have to keep pushing the things that we want to be successful and good at and showing performances. We have to keep doing that week in, week out and that’s ultimately the goal and will be the thing that helps us to be more successful than last year (when they finished fifth).”

Sunday’s other match sees Liverpool take on Aston Villa at Prenton Park.