Talking Tactics: City can bounce back in Manchester derby
Manchester City have had a less than ideal start to the Women's Super League season.
Picked by many as genuine title contenders, the Citizens have fallen to successive defeats and sit six points behind leaders Chelsea.
Their latest result, a 1-0 home loss against unfancied Brighton, came as a significant setback for Gareth Taylor's side.
Ahead of today's Manchester derby, we take a look at how City can bounce back.
Hitting the target
City have been relatively strong defensively this term. With just four goals shipped in six matches, they are level with Chelsea and Liverpool for fewest conceded.
Scoring regularly has surprisingly proved more of an issue, though, with a return of 10 leaving them some way behind the division's most prolific teams.
City have netted just twice in their previous three WSL fixtures, drawing a blank at home to Brighton despite registering an xG of 2.8.
In fact, the Citizens have underperformed their total xG of 12.2 throughout the season, highlighting an inability to convert chances.
After the Brighton defeat, Taylor said: "Everyone thinks and expects us to win and of course we do, but it's difficult.
"If you don't take your chances and aren't tight at the back it can happen to anyone.
"It's not a nice feeling, you want to win and our proud home record has gone, but we need to regroup and go again.
"Any game is good to bounce back from. It's the perfect game for us [against Manchester United]."
City have a number of talented attackers who they can turn to for inspiration.
England international Chloe Kelly has made an excellent start to the campaign, scoring three WSL goals and looking like her side's most consistently threatening player.
Alongside Jill Roord — a regular scorer for Wolfsburg before her summer move to Manchester — City have the makings of a potent attack.
Taylor also has Khadija Shaw at his disposal, who netted 20 times in England's top tier last term. However, she has only scored twice in 2023-24, which is below her xG of 2.9.
Finding a way to create more chances and get the club's quality forwards on top form is the key for the manager.
That is easier said than done, of course, but avoiding a complete loss of self-belief will be vital as City head into today's high-pressure clash at Old Trafford.
Keep the faith
It would be easy for City to panic after two damaging defeats in the space of a week.
No WSL title winner has ever lost more than twice in a season — a statistic that Taylor will no doubt be aware of.
The Citizens boss will be under increasing pressure if his side are beaten by United, particularly after a relatively underwhelming 2022-23 campaign.
However, patience might be required for a team still searching for true cohesion and consistency — and backing Taylor to find the solution could pay off in the long run.