It is set to be the biggest test of the season for Manchester United so far as the Reds, who are currently sitting top of the table, take on champions Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village.
Last season, United suffered their biggest defeat in the WSL when they lost to Chelsea 6-1 at home.
Marc Skinner has urged his team to show their maturity and how much they have evolved in front of a crowd expected to break their previous attendance records.
Reflecting on last season’s loss, he said: “Sometimes you have to take those hits to understand and know exactly where you are. For us, it was a devastating result, of course, but it was our third game.”
He continued: “Chelsea were ruthless on the day we know they can be. We are well aware of his goal threat. We are a different team, but I want us to show it”.
United have won each of their WSL games this season and kept a clean sheet throughout.
“It’s great that I talk about it here, but I want my team to show their maturity and energy in this game,” he continued.
“We know how difficult a task it is, they have some wonderful players and historically they are one of the best teams in the WSL. But I think it’s up to us to continue and choose how we impose ourselves. We need to have confidence, not complacency.”
Several new signings at United have helped close the gap from last season. Maya Le Tissier, 20, has been solid in defense and scored twice in her competitive debut for the club.
“She is a very talented young player, but she has surpassed her mature years and shows it. All she has to do is enjoy these moments. She sees and enjoys the camp, she sees and steps up and shows her qualities.”
Nikita Parris, who was part of the Lionesses team that won the European Championship, has already found himself on the scoreboard as well.
Still yet to find the goal, Rachel Williams has made a huge difference in games as a second-half substitute, injecting a boost of energy and passion into the Reds’ game before they become too complacent.
“It was actually carefully designing what each person could bring to us. For example, if we need to get into a physical battle with a team, and Chelsea are a very physical team, we know that Rachel Williams can scare most people.”
“It’s really important that we have variation and the ability to do that.”
England and United’s starting goalkeeper, Mary Earps, has made some good saves so far this season to maintain United’s unbeaten record.
When she starts against Chelsea, she will become the first goalkeeper to make her 150th WSL appearance.
Comments Skinner, “I’m a huge fan of what Mary has done in the last year since I’ve been in charge. With Mary, she gives us a lot of stability to build on.”
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last seven games in all competitions despite making a shaky start to the season when they lost to newly promoted Liverpool on the opening weekend.
Former Red Lauren James, who has been in fine form this season, is likely to start at Chelsea.
If United can pick up some points against Chelsea, they will lay the gauntlet on the top teams for the rest of the season.