Manchester United vs Manchester City: 5 things to see in the Continental Cup showdown

Vital points in the group stage are at stake tonight as Manchester United host Manchester City in the Continental Cup at Leigh Sports Village.

Despite their league form, Manchester City are at the top of Group B after two extensive victories over Durham and Everton.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will try to improve after winning penalty shootout over Championship side Durham in their only League Cup showdown.

So what should you keep an eye on?

Press for Gareth Taylor

It really is now or never for Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor, who is definitely feeling the heat after his team’s sad start to the WSL.

Injuries have certainly played a role, with Steph Houghton and Lucy Bronze among the players on a seemingly endless list of injuries.

However, a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea once again showed the problems in the game, with City now in ninth place in the WSL, having taken seven points from seven games.

Once again, it was a temporary eleven from Taylor, with English national team players Georgia Stanway and Jill Scott playing in defense.

And despite having the same number of shots as their opponents, Chelsea easily won away from home in Manchester City for the first time in the WSL.

After the loss, Taylor said: “We seemed to be in control but were punished by a good team. They make mistakes against a team like Chelsea and they will punish you.

“We keep moving forward – the teams take points apart and we have to stay in the mix.

“I thought our performance in the first half was one of the best we’ve had.”

Could the Manchester Derby be a chance for Taylor’s team to turn it around?

The city’s goalkeeper problems

Third-choice goalkeeper Benameur Taieb, who signed a two-year contract extension in 2020, has been put into the starting eleven after injuries to Ellie Roebuck and Karen Bardsley.

This season, Taieb has had a hard time. Once again, after a difficult afternoon against Chelsea, her self-confidence shattered.

Who will play in goal for City tonight?

Within two minutes, the City keeper’s misplaced pass gave Jessie Fleming the opportunity to easily score.

Later, her placement was to blame for Chelsea’s second and third. Taieb also failed to handle a corner whipped in under her crossbar when Magdalena Eriksson headed Chelsea’s fourth.

City’s injuries mean there is not an obvious opportunity for Taylor to turn to.

But with Taieb’s form, it would not be a surprise if City made a debut for sixteen-year-old Grace Pilling in one of their next few games.

Ella Toone

Ella Toone is a special player and one who could have a decent evening by taking advantage of an interim City defense.

PFA Fans’ Player of the Month for October has been among the goals this season, scoring three and assisting four in her first seven games in the WSL this year.

Last weekend, Toone showed her talent as she expertly finished from the edge of the box for Manchester United’s opening match against Everton.

If Toone plays tonight, she will definitely want to grab the headlines in the local derby.

Georgia stanway

The last time Manchester City hosted Manchester United, Georgia Stanway was sent off as both sides played rivals 2-2 in the WSL.

Stanway got a straight red card after a late tackle on Lean Galton, where Ellen White somehow snatched a late point for City.

Can Stanway return?

There is no doubt that Stanway will be crucial if Manchester City are to put their latest defensive mishap behind them and beat Manchester United tonight.

Despite his red card, the 22-year-old has been one of City’s better players, even in an unknown role as a right-back.

Her experience may prove to be the difference.

Will United prioritize WSL?

Against Durham, Manchester United made lots of changes, with Ella Toone being just one of the notable players absent from the starting line-up.

A Manchester Derby is perhaps another suggestion. With City struggling, Marc Skinner may feel it’s now the chance to upset their local rivals.

Will Marc Skinner lead United to a derby?

Still, Manchester United’s start at the WSL leaves them just three points from third place – a place that would see them qualify for next year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League.

With City in ninth place, the final Champions League place looks set to be on track for either Brighton, Tottenham or United themselves.

As he lacks the depth of teams like Arsenal, Chelsea and City, Skinner may be tempted to rest a few key players ahead of Sunday’s clash with WSL leaders Arsenal.

However, can he risk losing such talents in a derby?

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