Welcome to the latest edition of our digital Women's matchday programme, as we return to FA Women's Super League action with the visit of Arsenal.
First of all, we would like to send our love and best wishes to Jennifer Beattie, who earlier this year was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our former defender (and current Gunners star) is sharing her story to raise awareness. We’re all behind you, Jen. It's amazing what you're doing and everyone at Manchester City is so proud.
We have a huge game in store... We head into the encounter in fine form, having kicked off December with a thumping 3-0 win at Everton and hard-fought Champions League Round of 32 first leg victory at Göteborg.
(Shout out to Caroline Weir for her four assists in those two games - and to Georgia Stanway for netting her 50th goal for the Club!)
As always, we hear from Gareth Taylor and Steph Houghton, who share their thoughts on Sunday's game. Plus, we take a look back at some of Georgia's most memorable moments.
Meanwhile, Janine Beckie tells us who she thinks is the unsung hero in the City squad and Lauren Hemp reveals who she looked up to as her footballing idol.
We also meet our Junior Cityzen of the Match and catch up with our Manchester City Women's Official Supporters Club - and Gemma Bonner looks ahead to this weekend's game...
Let's do this!
A WORD FROM THE BOSS...
Hello, City fans.
It’s great to be back at the Academy Stadium for today’s FA Women’s Super League game against Arsenal. Welcome to their manager Joe Montemurro, their players and staff.
We’re in the midst of an exciting period of fixtures. We have three games to come before Christmas and we’re looking forward to it.
It will be a good game on Sunday. We’ve had two good wins in December and we’re pleased with that so far and we want to build some momentum.
I thought the team showed great resolve and resilience to grind out the win in midweek. We probably should have improved the result with a bigger scoreline but after the start we had, the girls controlled the game well with good energy.
We knew it was going to be a tricky tie, especially with the cold weather in Sweden and the difficult pitch. It’s something we’re not used to and that can make things tough but I was really pleased we were able to come away with a win.
We know we still have work to do and that regardless of the away result, the tie wouldn’t be over. We still have another game in Manchester so it was really important to get the away goals.
Georgia Stanway’s was a great finish for her 50th goal for the Club and that was really pleasing because we’ve really challenged her this season. The girls rib her a little bit for the amount of shots she has but that’s what we’re looking for: that kind of finish.
We probably should have already been ahead before Caroline Weir picked out Sam Mewis but while we were content with one away goal, the second gives us a strong advantage. Of course, we want to do well in the Champions League – in all competitions – and you’re coming up against teams who have earned the right to be there: tough teams. You need to be on the front foot every game.
Recent results have gone to show we’re trying a little bit of a new way of playing and the girls can see it working. Admittedly, we want to see stronger scorelines but these past few weeks have further convinced them of this way of playing, our style.
We’ll be even stronger on Sunday in terms of personnel. We decided not to risk taking Lauren Hemp to Sweden and Demi Stokes was on compassionate leave but they should be available to make us stronger.
Against Everton, we were able to change things early on with the game pretty much wrapped up but sometimes, when you’ve got the momentum, you want to maintain it. There’s no right or wrong to team selection. We’ve seen it with Pep Guardiola – he didn’t make a change the other day and made just one the previous game. Sometimes, players need to rest but sometimes, they need to play. It’s a case of looking at each individual game.
For Sunday, the girls will be ready and regardless of who is selected, the team put out will be good enough to win the game. I hope we can put in another good performance. We’re in amongst it in the title race and three points would be a big push for us.
Enjoy the game.
It’s been a long time since we played a home game so we’re really looking forward to being back on our own turf this weekend. We know it’s going to be a big one! Games against Arsenal always are.
Last time we played them, it was the Women’s FA Cup semi-final, which was a bit tasty! We know we have to be at the top of our game to beat a very good side.
We’re in good form though. Once we came back off international break, we talked about the month ahead and the big games coming up before Christmas.
During this period, we had five tough games and we’ve ticked two off with two good performances and results.
We’re still growing as a team, learning and getting better week by week. We were really happy after the Champions League win in Sweden against Göteborg. Although we were disappointed with the way we started the game, credit to the team: we came back to turn it around by playing the way we wanted to play – and in tough conditions.
Of course, when you’re playing in the Champions League, you’re facing very good teams. To have conceded the goal we did was frustrating but we’ll learn from it on the training pitch, making sure we sharpen up.
In every game, you have to be ready from the first minute and now, we’ll know what to expect for another tough game against them next Wednesday.
Credit to the girls though: we caused them a lot of problems and with the chances we had, we probably should have won by a bigger margin – but ultimately, we got a win and two away goals to take back to Manchester.
We want to keep improving our performances. Being patient in the final third is something we’re working on.
Sometimes, when we get into the final third, we get a little bit excited in front of goal so we have to learn to be patient and draw the opposition out. There’s so much quality up top – pace, dribbling ability and finishing – so we know the goals will come if we stick to the process.
Speaking of goals, I’d like to congratulate Georgia Stanway on scoring her 50th goal for the Club. She was actually wearing my spare boot so I’ll take the credit for it… but in all seriousness, Georgia is the future of the Club. She’s been here a long time and she’s such a good girl on and off the pitch. I was really proud of her but I know there’s much more to come. I believe she can be one of the best players in the country – if not Europe. Well done, G!
It was right we enjoyed the win in midweek but now it’s back to business – we go again on Sunday. We need to keep our high standards. Of course, we want to win every game we play in and for me, I don’t mind how we do it, as long as we get those three points!
Come on, City!
Georgia Stanway netted her 50th goal for the
Club in Wednesday's Champions League win in Göteborg!
MY FOOTBALLING ICON:
In the latest edition of My Footballing Icon,
presented by Hays, the PFA Young Player of the Year
reveals the player she models herself on...
“Growing up, I didn't really have a main role model. When I was young, there wasn’t much information or broadcasting or anything about women's football.
“It wasn’t until I was older -15 or 16, when there was a pathway within women's football - that I had a women’s football role model.
“At the time, I was looking up to Steph Houghton and Jill Scott - players I play with now! - but my favourite Lionesses player was Jordan Nobbs.
"Although she doesn't play in my position, I was a really big fan of hers. I followed her on social media and read her articles - and I still look up to her today.
“Now, I get to play alongside her for England and when we're on camp, I am learning from her, watching her attributes and how she portrays herself on and off the pitch, like in the dining room, and how she prepares for training.
“When you're with those players every single day, you learn things from them - what they do. Although they might not know it, I am taking in everything what they do.
“Playing with the likes of Steph and Jill every day has really helped me through the transition of becoming a first-team player for City and England.
“They've given me the best advice and really helped to make it easier for me and I really appreciate people like that.
“When I'm older, I want to help young players who are in my position now.
“It's nice to be considered as a role model. It's weird to think people actually know who I am and sometimes, people recognise me in the street - more so in my hometown as there are a lot bigger celebrities than me in Manchester!
“Lots of people tag me in things they're doing on social media and things they're inspired by.
“It makes me really proud that people feel inspired by me.”
ELLEN WHITE IS AN UNSUNG HERO
Janine Beckie says she could not be more pleased to see teammate and 'unsung hero' Ellen White earn the recognition she deserves.
The England forward enjoyed a record-breaking month in November, netting her 50th FA Women's Super League goal (becoming the first City player and second overall to do so) and lifting the Women's FA Cup for a fourth time.
With two goals and two assists in the 8-1 triumph over Bristol City, White was nominated in the WSL Player of the Month award and Beckie hailed 31-year-old's impact, which the Canada international believes is often taken for granted.
“I think we have quite a few unsung heroes in the squad,” she declared.
“Ellen White goes under the radar quite a bit. Her work rate is unbelievable.
“Everyone saw her talent at the World Cup last summer and she's been absolutely pivotal for us these last two seasons.”
November also saw a new name thrust into the spotlight, as Laura Coombs impressed with a string of influential displays, netting three Goal of the Season contenders in as many games!
Again, Beckie was thrilled to see another of her underrated teammates hit the headlines.
“Laura Coombs came in and scored some world-class goals in the last couple of weeks,” she continued.
“We have such a wide range of talent on the team and a lot of players that do the fundamental things really, really well, which go unnoticed a lot of the time.
“We have a workrate and a tenacity about our team and we've added a layer of experience that we were missing before. For example, when you have two players that have been to the Champions League Final and won it (and in Lucy Bronze's case: done it multiple times), those players that can speak about their experience.
“Then you have players like Sam and Rose, who have obviously played in the pinnacle of women's soccer - the World Cup Final - and won too. That's something that's really going to drive us forward.
“When you have those players on your roster, it just adds that extra little bit of experience and help. It helps the younger players and players that haven't been there before. I think that will bode really well.”
Nickname: The Gunners
Stadium: Meadow Park (Borehamwood)
Division: FA Women’s Super League
FA Women's Super League (2011, 2012, 2018/19)
FA Women's Premier League National Division (1992/93, 1994/95, 1996/97, 2000/01, 2001/02, 2003/04, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10)
FA Women's Premier League Southern Division (1991/92)
FA Women's Cup (1992/93, 1994/95, 1997/98, 1998/99, 2000/01, 2003/04, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2013/14, 2015/16)
FA WSL Cup (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017/18)
FA Women's Premier League Cup (1991/92, 1992/93, 1993/94, 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2004/05, 2006/07, 2008/09)
FA Women's Community Shield (2000 - shared, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008)
UEFA Women's Champions League (2006/07)
London County FA Women's Cup (1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97, 1999/00, 2003/04, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11)
Manager: Joe Montemurro
Appointed: November 2017
The Gunners boss is well-known within the City Football Group, having guided Melbourne City Women (featuring the on-loan Jennifer Beattie) to an impressive double-winning campaign in 2015/16 in his first season in charge, before leading his side to back-to-back Championship success.
18 May 2014, FA WSL: Arsenal 0-1 City (Duggan)
24 August 2014, FA WSL: City 0-4 Arsenal
18 October 2014, Continental Cup: City 1-0 Arsenal
19 April 2015, FA WSL: City 0-1 Arsenal
9 August 2015, FA WSL: Arsenal 2-3 City
(Bronze, Christiansen, Duggan)
1 October 2015, Continental Cup: Arsenal 1-0 City
28 March 2016, FA WSL: City 2-0 Arsenal (Ross, Duggan)
4 September 2016, Continental Cup: City 1-0 Arsenal (Beattie)
11 September 2016, FA WSL: Arsenal 0-1 City (Ross)
28 May 2017, Spring Series: City 0-1 Arsenal
30 September 2017, FA WSL: City 5-2 Arsenal
(Ross, Houghton, Stanway, Christiansen, Scott)
14 March 2018, Continental Cup: City 0-1 Arsenal
12 May 2018, FA WSL: Arsenal 2-1 City (Nadim)
2 December 2018, FA WSL: City 2-0 Arsenal (Stanway x2)
23 February 2019, Continental Cup: Arsenal 0-0(p) City AET
12 May 2019, FA WSL: Arsenal 1-0 City
27 October 2019, FA WSL: Arsenal 1-0 City
29 January 2020, Continental Cup: Arsenal 2-1 City (Bonner)
2 February 2020, FA WSL: City 2-1 Arsenal (Bremer, Hemp)
1 October 2020, FA Cup: City 2-1 Arsenal (Houghton, Mewis)
Georgia Stanway is City’s joint top scorer against the Gunners, netting three goals with former teammates Izzy Christiansen and Jane Ross. She bagged a brace in a 2-0 triumph in December 2018.
City skipper Steph Houghton captained Arsenal and spent three years with the Gunners between 2010 and 2013, alongside striker Ellen White.
The pair lifted the 2011 and 2012 FA WSL titles, 2011 and 2013 FA Women’s Cups, and 2012 and 2013 Continental Cups with White also victorious in the latter’s 2011 competition.
Laura Coombs (2007-2011) and Chloe Kelly (2015-2017) also represented the North London outfit with Kelly stating she has ‘something to prove’ against her former employers tonight!
Arsenal's Jennifer Beattie spent four years at City, helping the Club to FA Women's Super League, Continental Cup and FA Women's Cup success. She scored against the Gunners in the Conti Cup semi-finals in 2016 en route to lifting the trophy.
Australians Lydia Williams and Steph Catley played for Melbourne City, while goalkeeper Fran Stenson also played for City in the 2018/19 campaign.
JUNIOR CITYZEN OF THE MATCH
Hello and congratulations to our Junior Cityzen of the Match: Dylan Graty.
Dylan has been a City fan his whole life and has been going to games for around seven years.
He's pictured below at a League Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday, which was 0-0 at half-time but finished 7-0 to City!
Dylan is a goalkeeper for his local team Reddish Villa and takes the number 31 shirt after Ederson. His favourite women's team player is Lucy Bronze. He loves anything football-related!
His birthday is on Christmas Day (which he doesn’t like!) and he also likes cycling, golf and computer games.
Enjoy the game, Dylan!
If you want to be our next Junior Cityzen of the Match, enter now on the Cityzens platform!
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On Sunday 29 November, the Manchester City
Women's Official Supporters Club were extremely
proud to celebrate our fifth anniversary.
As with many things in 2020, a traditional gathering to mark the occasion was not possible but we did receive lots of messages from members, friends and fans worldwide on our social media channels.
One special message we received was from Aoife Mannion
on behalf of the Club and players.
We thank everyone for the special messages.
Our member Sophia Crook was delighted to be selected as
the Etihad Junior Cityzen of the Match for last
weekend's men's game against Fulham.
She appeared on the giant screens at the Etihad Stadium,
cheering on from home, and in the matchday programme.
We are very proud of her. Well done Sophia!
MCWFC Official Supporters Club
Q&A WITH → GEMMA BONNER
Our super centre-back reflects on a memorable win
over the Gunners and shares her thoughts
on City's incredible squad depth...
Gemma, you have fond memories of playing against Arsenal... You recently told us your all-time favourite City game was a 2-0 win in the 2018/19 season, which was also just before Christmas. What do you remember of that game?
Yeah, I remember that game. We put in a really good performance that day. Obviously, it was a big game going into it and both teams were in good form. Arsenal were top of the league at the time.
I don't think anybody expected us to play as well as we did. We put in a good performance - very controlled - and we came out with a positive result.
You mentioned the importance of the timing of that win with it being just before Christmas. Why is it important and how would it feel to repeat that feat this season?
I think you always want to end the year on a good performance, especially before the Christmas break.
This year has probably been a bit inconsistent for us in the league in terms of our results and performances so for us, we want to keep momentum.
Going into the break, we've got a few massive games coming up and we need to make sure we're at the top end of the table and able to compete, especially with the teams we have around us.
If we can get a good result against Arsenal going into the Christmas break, then I think it will put us in a good position .
As a defender, when you know you're going to be coming up against some of the best forwards in the world, how do you feel ahead of those games? How do you prepare and does that challenge excite you?
Yeah, it's definitely exciting. I think as players, you want to be playing against the best teams and best players in the world.
You see the league now and we've got the best players in the world coming into play over in here in England. That's what we want: to be challenged week in, week out - no matter who you're playing against.
Arsenal have got world-class players all over the pitch. They're such a good team and I think we almost thrive on playing the best teams and the challenges that they face. It almost brings out another level in you so we're excited.
As a player, you want to prepare the same way you do every other game. It's so competitive in the league at the moment but yeah, it's definitely an exciting challenge.
As you mentioned, we're playing catch-up a little bit in the league at the moment going into this Arsenal game. Who do you think is under the most pressure - us or them?
I think probably both teams are under the same pressure. It's such a long season and there's still a long way to go. You can really see that teams are taking points off each other - maybe unexpectedly. That means you have to be up - no matter who you're playing against - because otherwise, you can come unstuck quite easily.
I think both teams are under no illusions that, although it's a big game, there are also a lot of big games against other teams as well. I don't think you can necessarily write other teams off.
Both teams will be going out looking to win but for us, especially, we definitely want to get the three points.
How do you feel the squad have adapted to Gareth Taylor's style of play?
It's taken a bit of time. I think you can see that from early on in the season to now, we're growing as a group together. Naturally, it was always going to take time with so many different players coming in and new management and new ways of playing.
Ultimately, we want to dominate the ball and be positive in possession, playing good football and we've got players here with unbelievable ability, which allows us to do that.
For us, it's about getting consistency. We've got it in parts but doing it for longer spells will help us going forward.
You mentioned about the new signings. It seems the competition for places has never been higher...?
Yeah, throughout the squad this year, we've got the depth and it's shown, especially in the past couple of games. In comparison to previous seasons, the squad is huge and we've also got young players coming through. You've got the likes of Esme Morgan and Jess Park coming through and they have really come on. Even though they're still young, they've really matured in their performances this year. You can really see that.
No matter who you starts or who comes off the bench, it doesn't make a difference in terms of the rhythm of the team. That's probably the biggest thing this year in terms of the depth and the quality that we've got - that if changes are made to freshen up or if we need a spark in a game to come on from the bench, then we've got that.