Manchester United have to 'dig deep' at Aston Villa, Marc Skinner urges

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Marc Skinner says Manchester United will have to "dig deep" when the Women's Super League leaders take on Aston Villa away on Friday evening. While Villa were thumped 5-0 in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford in December, their work across the season sees them currently in fifth place in the table and they were also FA Cup semi-finalists. In England international Rachel Daly, they have a player who has scored 15 league goals this term. United boss Skinner, whose side will go six points clear at the top with a win, told a press conference ahead of the match at the Bescot Stadium: "We're playing against a team that's fifth for a reason, so we need to make sure we're on the very best of our game. "This is a particularly difficult one that we've got to navigate around. "We reflected when we played them and it was a big score at Old Trafford, and Villa had chances. When they're at home, it's always going to be difficult. We've got to dig deep. That's what I expect of our team, but this year, we've shown we can do that. "Credit to Carla (Ward, the Villa manager) and the team for what they've done, I think it helps with the investment as well. They've had a really, really good season. "I think they'll be very proud when they reflect on it, and they're not finished yet, they want to take as many points in this last part as possible - but so do we."

United, who were only relaunched in 2018 and finished fourth in the WSL last season, are three points clear of Manchester City with four more league matches to go. Third-placed Chelsea, their opponents when they make their first-ever FA Cup final appearance next month, are four points behind United with six league fixtures left, while Arsenal are fourth, a further two points behind, with five still to play. Skinner added: "We've shown resilience, quality. There's a reason we're the top goalscorers (with 47) and have conceded the least (nine). I think the progression of our team is massive. "It's about focus, doing our job, being as resilient as we're going to need to be in these last games, but also showing personality. I want to see personality that I've seen all season from this team." Villa had 12 points by the time they played United at Old Trafford, and have added 18 in the 10 games since. Ward said of the 5-0 loss: "Absolutely (we learnt lessons) and it hurt, I'm not going to lie. I think that has to be a motivation this weekend. "We weren't at our best, we've got a very different-looking team to that last game, it's one we definitely have reflected on and we want to make sure that doesn't happen again." Ward's squad was boosted in January by the additions of Lucy Staniforth, after her departure from United, and fellow midfielder Jordan Nobbs from Arsenal. Kirsty Hanson has been on loan at Villa from United this term, and Ward said of securing the forward long-term: "We're optimistic about it, I think it also depends on where Manchester United end up. "I think everyone knows, if you play Champions League, you need a very big squad. So we'll have to see how the remaining games pan out. Certainly we want to keep her."

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