Five reasons to check out the Manchester WSL Derby this weekend

There are plenty of reasons to attend the Manchester Derby this weekend. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

It’s Red versus Blue this weekend in Manchester as United take on City at Leigh Sports Village tomorrow (1.30 BST) in the Women’s Super League

For the first time this season, the two sides go head-to-head for bragging rights as well as three points in the league.

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Just the mention of it being a derby should be enough to entice anyone to head to Greater Manchester for what promises to be an action packed affair.

If you are new to WSL, we explain why you should take in the game of the weekend in the league.

A witness to a changing of the guard?

In the world of women’s football, Manchester City are the well established team whilst United are the newcomers who are trying to find their feet and are in pursuit of trophies.

United are in an unfamiliar position of being above City, holding a six point lead over the Citizens, who have had a sluggish start to the season.

Gareth Taylor’s side have had to deal with an injury crisis with a number of players forced to play in alternative positions, which has left them with just one league win from their opening four matches.

This weekend, United could be deemed as ‘favourites’ given their start to the season compared to their City counterparts.

Marc Skinner has dismissed that tag and wants his team to be underdogs but a win over City could put them in a commanding position to finish higher than their rivals.

It’s early days in the season but a nine-point gap at this stage would give them the psychological edge.

Big crowds and big goals

In the first professional women’s Manchester Derby there were more than 31,000 people in attendance at the Etihad as City ran out 1-0 winners.

The game was evenly poised before Caroline Weir struck from 25-yards out with a sublime strike to settle the game. The goal was so good that it was nominated for a FIFA Puskás Award, which is evidence of the quality on display.

First Derby with fans since September 2019

Unfortunately we never got to see the return fixture of the first professional Manchester Derby as the pandemic curtailed the 2019/20 season.

As mentioned over 31,000 fans attended the Etihad for that fixture at such a venue so there is no reason for there not to be a respectable crowd on Saturday.

United in the 2019/20 season had the third highest average for attendances which shows that they have built up a fan base in Leigh.

The last meeting between the two at United’s ground was quite the entertaining match. After falling behind to goals from Chloe Kelly and Laura Coombs, United mounted a second-half fight back from Tobin Heath and Kirsty Hanson to draw 2-2. If that can happen behind-closed-doors imagine what is possible with a crowd.

A few players have crossed the divide

Usually you nail your colours to the mast but in this derby, there are some interesting stories of players who have played for both sides.

In search of first-team football after a lack of a senior team, Ella Toone moved to Blackburn Rovers and then later on to City, where she signed on dual registration terms, allowing her to play for both.

After the formation of United’s side in 2018, the Tyldesley-born youngster made the return to The Red Devils and has not looked back since. She is excelling this season and has emerged as a key player, though a goal against her former employers still alludes to her.

In the City camp is Alex Greenwood, who will draw on her experience of playing for United to try and outwit them. Greenwood was captain in their inaugural season and helped them to the Championship title but was bought by Olympique Lyonnais for a fee. Her stay in France was only a season though and she was later snapped up by City, helping them win the FA Women’s Cup.

It’s affordable and family friendly

At just six pounds a ticket for an adult as well as three pounds for Over 65s and Under-16s that is an incredible offer for what is top tier football.

Fans will be placed in the East Stand which will give them a good view of the game. Drinks and refreshments will also be available and given the cut price of tickets, it allows families to make a real day of it.

There is always the possibility too of both sets of players meeting their heroes and posing for photographs after the match.