Welcome to the latest edition of our digital Women's matchday programme, as we welcome Chelsea to the Academy Stadium in the quarter-finals of the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup.
We head into the clash on the back of Sunday's scintillating 7-0 win over Aston Villa, as Gareth Taylor's side picked up where we left off in 2020 with a ruthless performance!
As always, we hear from the boss and skipper Steph Houghton, and take a look at our familiar foe Chelsea...
Meanwhile, we get to know our new recruit Abby Dahlkemper a little better, and Jill Scott recalls her all-time favourite City game - a memorable Conti Cup clash against our midweek opponents!
Plus, Karen Bardsley looks back on a 'remarkable' seven years at the Club, we meet our Junior Cityzen of the Match and we catch up with the Manchester City Women's Official Supporters Club...
Sights set on the semi-finals...
A WORD FROM THE BOSS...
Hello, City fans,
What a game we have in store in Wednesday’s Continental Cup quarter-final clash against Chelsea. Welcome to their manager Emma Hayes, their players and staff.
It’s another big game in our quest for silverware this season and we’re really looking forward to the challenge. We’re in great form, having picked up where we left off in December, and we’re eager to take another step closer to achieving our targets.
We’re coming into another feast of fixtures now with a lot of important games in a short period of time but as I’ve said before, I prefer it this way – it gives us the chance to really build a run of momentum.
It’s been a great few days for us with Sunday’s win over Aston Villa and the signing of Abby Dahlkemper and we’re hoping to continue our recent good form. Naturally, I was delighted with Sunday’s performance.
We’d spoken in previous games about making the right decisions in the final third and I felt we did that in the first half. We were ruthless and it showed that we can be clinical. It was great to see players across the board chipping in with goals and assists too.
In the second half, with such a commanding lead, it’s hard to maintain the same level of performance but we kept pushing to add to the scoreline, which we did, and it was great to give some of our youngsters a chance to gain some valuable first-team experience. As a Club, we strive to develop young talent and it was a proud moment for everyone to see Millie Davies and Alicia Window to make their debuts. Well done to them.
On the signing of Abby, we are delighted to welcome another exciting addition to the squad – a World Cup winner and very talented defender with a real desire and hunger. She’s been successful both on a domestic and international level and she’ll fit into our team ethos perfectly. We’re looking forward to working with her over the coming seasons.
Games are coming thick and fast once again but as always, we’re not looking too far ahead. We’re taking one game at a time and our first priority is to progress in the Conti Cup – a special competition for us. Our target is always to challenge in all competitions and this Club have a proud reputation of doing. Having enjoyed success in this tournament previously, we are keen to put our name back on the trophy.
Winning the Women’s FA Cup has given us a real platform to push on from. We enjoyed that feeling of winning and it drives the desire for more success – but we’re not getting carried away. There is still a long way to go in the season and as we’ve seen already, there are a lot of twists and turns.
We know we’re going to have to produce our best level of performance if we are to progress on Wednesday. In our previous meetings with Chelsea this season, we know we weren’t at our best but there were some small margins and we’ve made great strides since then. We knew that those results would not define our season and everyone has worked so hard to grow from those setbacks.
A final note: I’d like to congratulate Caroline Weir on her PFA Player of the Month award for December. She started the month well with a top-class performance against Everton and carried on that form into our Champions League games and the league win over Arsenal. Everyone knows of the quality she has but we had really challenged her to contribute with goals and assists and she’s really stepped up. Well done, Caz.
Enjoy the game.
Here we are again... What a game we have in store on Wednesday: a Continental Cup quarter-final at home against Chelsea!
Games don't come much bigger... it's like a mini-Final! Of course, that's not to disrespect any of the other teams in the competition but when you're drawn against one of the best teams in the country, there's always a little more at stake.
Ultimately, I believe in the squad we have and our ability to turn it on in the big games. This is one of those games but if we're going to achieve what we want to achieve - winning as many trophies as we can - we have to beat the best teams.
We're used to playing Chelsea in the league and in latter stages of competitions so we know what they're about. They're a team full of quality and we know we're going to have to perform at the highest level to give us the best chance of progressing.
There have been some great games between the two sides over the years, although we were disappointed with our performances against them in the Community Shield and the league earlier this season. We didn't show ourselves to be the best version of what we are.
Going forward, we need to make sure we have no fear. We're as good as any team in the league.
Of course, we're at home on Wednesday, which gives us an advantage. We always pride ourselves on playing at home and we want to make sure our excellent record there continues. We go into the game on the back of a fantastic win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
I was so proud of the team for that performance - seven goals and a clean sheet - and I'd like to say congratulations to to Millie Davies and Alicia Window on making their debuts for the Club. The youngsters really have really stepped up and it's great to see the next batch of young talent coming through.
Speaking of which, I'm also delighted to welcome Abby Dahlkemper to the Club. It's brilliant to have another World Cup winner in the squad -another top-class international who has succeeded at the highest level. We can't wait for her to join us in Manchester and I'm looking forward to playing alongside her in defence.
We're coming into another busy period now. Of course, the more successful you are in competitions, the more games you play - and with rearranged games, we're going to have a busier schedule than usual - but that's the case for everyone and we have to deal with it. Ultimately, that's what we want and that's why we have the squad we have.
Congratulations to Caz Weir on her PFA Player of the Month award by the way! Caz is such a class player for us and she was unbelievable throughout December. She's such an important part of our squad and she showed that with some incredible performances. That goal against Arsenal was particularly special!
We've said from the beginning: everybody is needed - in training and in games. I think periods like this bring the squad closer together when you're playing more frequently and people are having more chances to play. We just have to try and get through, winning as many games as possible.
To be honest, we're viewing it all as a positive. Hopefully, we can get the results we want, starting on Wednesday. We've always loved the Conti Cup and we're going to do everything we can to get it back!
Come on, City!
10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW
Abby Dahlkemper has become the latest World Cup winner to join the City ranks.
Following in the footsteps of summer recruits Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, Dahlkemper has made the move across the Atlantic, putting pen to paper on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
Here are 10 things you may or may not know about our new Blue…
1. Nickname of the game
It's no secret that Abby is close friends with compatriots and fellow World Cup winners Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle.
The three share as strong a bond off the pitch as they do on it... but what you may not know is that it's claimed Abby gave Sam her nickname of the Tower of Power!
Dahlkemper opened up on the friendship in her first interview with CityTV, discussing how their bond aids their on-field success.
She also revealed that the trio often joke around and in fact, one of her favourite memories was when the US stars contested a water-chugging competition!
"The ability to go through highs and lows together is something that's really helpful," she declared.
"Carrying a friendship onto the field is awesome because you know how that player plays - and their tendencies. You care for your teammate a lot.
"We've experienced a lot of highs but also some lows together and that has helped us to grow - through friendship but also as players.
"We're able to be open and be honest in commination and we know that we genuinely want the best for each other. That helps us to push and challenge each other.
"There are some shenanigans we get into! I remember one time we had a water-chugging contest, which was hilarious. I have the video and sometimes, I send it to them!
"It sounds so stupid but it was so funny. We just do ridiculous things and laugh about it. I feel like I laugh the most when I'm within them. We're just having fun and enjoying life!
"I'm really thankful to have met such amazing people and amazing world-class players."
2. Lucky 13
Dahlkemper's City squad number holds some significance for the defender, as she also explained to CityTV.
"I always thought it was a lucky number," she smiled. "I was born on the 13th and it's a number I'm fond of.
"I was really excited when I saw it was available. I like to think of it as a lucky number for me.
"I'm excited to represent Manchester City and wear the number 13."
City's American men's team goalkeeper Zack Steffen also sports the same number!
3. United States stalwart
Dahlkemper started every game of the United States' 2019 World Cup success.
In fact, the centre-half played the most minutes of any US outfield player in France, featuring in 622 of a possible 630, as the Stars and Stripes lifted their fourth world title.
The Champions conceded just three goals throughout the tournament - one of which was scored by new City teammate Ellen White in the semi-finals.
Reflecting on the experience, Dahlkemper believes it proved to be a defining moment in her career.
"Luckily, I was able to help the team on the field for the World Cup," Dahlkemper stated.
"I try to take advantage of every opportunity that has come my way - being open to learning and developing and not being satisfied with where I'm at.
"I grew as a person and player so much throughout that tournament. I never really took any second of minute for granted."
4. Happy New Year
In addition to making the decision to join City over the past few months, Abby received more life-changing news...
In December, she became engaged to Aaron Schoenfeld (also a soccer player) - and the pair married in early January!
What a start to 2021!
"It's been a lot," she admitted, "but in a good way.
"Change is uncomfortable sometimes in life but that's a good thing.
"You can learn and experience new things. I definitely try to relish the opportunity in the moment.
"At times, it might be a little stressful but at the end of the day, things are settled and done and I'm so excited!"
5. Second nature
Outside of football, Abby enjoys being outdoors, particularly hiking.
"I like being out in nature, hiking and walking around outside," she shared.
"I think it's therapeutic for me. It's very calming and something I really enjoy.
"It helps me mentally to take a pause form the stresses of life, being a footballer with its ups and downs.
"I relish my time outside, experiencing different things.
"I've bene lucky enough to travel as well, which is something I really enjoy."
6. Mum's the word
Abby's mother was an avid basketball player, growing up.
The pair share a strong relationship and Abby believes she learned a lot from her mother's experiences.
"My relationship with my mother is so special to me," she told US Soccer.
"She played basketball her whole life, growing up. She reminds me how fast she was - fast, strong, mentally tough and aggressive!
"It's really cool and inspiring. I love hearing my mom talk about that. You can still hear the passion and love for the game of basketball.
"She ended up quitting before college level and said - with a tear in her eye - that it's her one biggest regret: that when she was faced with adversity, she gave into it.
"She didn't have the equal opportunity as I have today with women's sport. She is proud that I faced adversity but kept marching on and pursuing my dreams.
"I see myself in my mother and I'm so thankful proud have these values instilled in me: being mentally tough, independent and kind."
7. Idols and inspirations
Although she does not model her game on anyone in particular, Dahlkemper says watching the Premier League from a young age helped to mould her style of play.
Like many young girls, she idolised the United States' women's teams of the 90s and crucially, retained their desire 'to win at all costs.'
"I don't know if I would say [I model my game on] anyone in particular," she said.
"I do watch a lot of Premier League games - I've always watched the Premier League - and I've seen the evolution of defenders, being able to play from the back, distribute well, being aggressive, winning balls and being a quarter-back, setting play...
"It's important... you have to be a well-rounded player to play and have all of the attributes.
"I really liked watching the US Women's National Team. I remember being young and fascinated with the '99ers documentary - that team and the progressive wave they started.
"I always looked up to Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Abby Wambach... being inspired by them and their commitment to the women's game - their commitment to getting better and winning at all costs.
"That's something that's ingrained in the USWNT style and it's contagious, which is really cool.
"I always looked up to a lot of these players and I remember watching the Premier League and all of the amazing teams there, learning from them.
"Watching a lot of soccer games shaped my dream's progress, seeing how the professionals do it."
8. Best attributes
Impressed with City's desire to play out from the back, Dahlkemper believes her own individual style fits perfectly.
"I've watched a lot of City play in the past, dominating possession and play," she continued.
"The defence have quality players through the backline - England internationals, who have amazing technique and are really smart - and even the goalkeeper is awesome with her feet!
"City love to play out from the back, which they do really well, and that's something I hope I can help with and really add value to.
"Dominating possession is really fun to watch and fun to be a part of. I'm excited to be part of an already-strong defensive line.
"I hope to be able to set play out from the back and distribute, setting the tempo and securing the backline, preventing any attack before it starts."
Asked of aspects of her game she hopes to improve on, she replied: "Being able to experience different tactical play.
"The system looks very structured in the way City play - they have an identity, which they stuck to, no matter what.
"It's awesome because it makes teams adjust - teams have to respect the way City play.
"The FA WSL is a little bit different to the NWSL - the NWSL is probably more physical with a lot of counter-attacks - but I'm looking to experience more of the tactical side."
9. Style it out
If she were not a footballer, Dahlkemper believes her career would have taken a completely different path...
"I think I would be a really trendy hair stylist in LA or photographer, who travels around shooting surfing," she told Soccer.com.
"I could go to really tropical, cool places!"
10. Canine companion
As with many of her new teammates, including Sam and Rose, Abby has a dog: a cockapoo called Bobby.
While away from home, she FaceTimes her beloved pooch (using her distinctive 'dog voice') every day.
"Bobby's great," she smiled. "She's currently at her grandma's - my mom's house - back in California.
"She won't be in Manchester right away, as I'll be coming straight from camp, but she will be making an appearance after the summer.
"I'm going to get settled and then Bobby will make her way to Manchester.
"We FaceTime every day and I talk to her every day... She's excited!"
MY FAVOURITE GAME
One of our longest-serving female players, Jill Scott has
enjoyed hundreds of memories in sky blue.
Glorious goals, wonderful wins, long-awaited trophy lifts... magic moments glittering a seven-year City career.
But which of her sensational 180 games was her favourite?
Presented by Marathonbet, Scott shares her most memorable City match - a delightful Conti Cup win against Wednesday's familiar foe...
I'm going to go back to the Continental Cup semi-final in 2014.
It was our first year as a professional team and we played Chelsea, which was a really big test - all odds were against us.
The game was played at a different stadium as well - Ewen Fields in Hyde - and we beat them 1-0 with Toni Duggan scoring.
It was such a great day and we went on to win the trophy.
Looking back, that was one of my favourite seasons in football.
It was a new challenge for me after leaving Everton and the team spirit was really good.
The team was mixed in terms of experience of playing at the top level but every single player showed improvement that year and it was great to see and be part of.
Everything was new and there was a real buzz around the team. We knew it was going to take a few years to compete and we knew there would be dips along the way but there was a plan in place, a process and we had real togetherness.
Nick Cushing was fantastic too, introducing us to a style of football we really enjoyed, challenging us every single week.
It was really exciting.
The cup run
We'd lost our first four games at the beginning of the season. We knew it was going to be tough but by our own standards, we expected to pick up some points.
It was hard to take but everything happens for a reason. We got our first win against Everton in the Continental Cup and that kick-started us - we realised we were good enough to win these games.
Sometimes, you just get a feeling that things are going to go well, especially if you've had a good week in training - spirits are high and you just think: 'There's no way we're losing this game.'
It doesn't always go to plan but I remember the day before, we'd had a really good training session - it was highly competitive - and I just thought to myself: 'We're not going out of this competition.'
The sun was shining and the atmosphere was amazing. The fans were really close to the pitch and all of our families were there.
I remember we played a little bit of a different system. We tried to get one over on them tactically.
We'd worked on it in training and we felt all we had to do was bring the hard work, which is always ensured with this team.
The magic moment
I remember Toni running through - it was a one-on-one situation.
I was already running towards her celebrating before she put it in the back of the net because I already knew what the outcome would be!
You can see from the celebrations how much it meant. It was just a massive pile-on!
Winning as underdogs
It actually felt like we'd won the trophy, although it was the semi-final.
It's true what they say - there's no better feeling than winning when the odds are stacked against you.
When I was at Everton, my first ever trophy was the League Cup - the equivalent of the Conti Cup but it had a different name.
It was against Arsenal and we were the underdogs but we won 1-0. When I look back, it's weird because the two Finals are an exact replica - a cross comes in from the right and we score to win the game!
We both hung on for 90 minutes, fighting with our backs against the wall! You come away, thinking: 'How did we win that?' but it's a great feeling.
Those two wins will down in my career as the two with the best feelings. I've got the date of the Everton Final tattooed on my ankle, so you can see how much it meant.
When you're the underdog, there is no better feeling than winning against the odds. I definitely agree with that!
Q&A WITH → KAREN BARDSLEY
On Sunday, we mark our seventh anniversary as a professional outfit with a week-long celebration of 'seven trophies in seven years.'
Our second signing back in 2013, KB stands tall as
one of our longest-serving stars, having
recently clocked her 100th appearance for the Club.
As we recall an incredible journey, our legendary shot-stopper
reflects on a 'remarkable' career in sky blue...
KB, looking back on the last seven years, can you believe what the Club has achieved?
It's something that excites me when I think about it and it's something I'm really proud of: the meteoric rise from relative obscurity to 2014 and that journey through to where we are today. To see where we are now seven years later, I'm very proud of it.
From winning the Continental Cup - our first piece of major silverware - in our first season, to lifting our seventh trophy in 2020... Did you expect so much success so soon?
Absolutely not! From that first trophy in 2014 to winning a bronze medal at the World Cup in 2015, and then going off the back of that to the double-winning season in 2016...
In 2016, we really started to show what we were capable of doing - winning the league and the Conti Cup - and then we went on to win the FA Cup in 2017!
We put together really good back-to-back seasons and we even reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in our first two attempts, having faced top opposition. It was crazy!
What was the moment you first felt City could be a competitive force?
For me, the really pivotal moment was when we played Everton at the Etihad Stadium in 2014. It was so cool - the whole atmosphere and the fact we were playing at the stadium for the first time. It made the occasion even more memorable.
We'd had a difficult start to the season and we were struggling to score. I remember a few times during the game, Nick Cushing kept saying: "Just be patient. Stick to the methodology. Trust what we've been working on."
It was still 0-0 in the dying moments of the game and Natasha Flint scored. We ended up winning 1-0 and it was one of those moments when we really took a big step forward in believing in what we were doing and buying into how we want to play.
The team had a belief in each other and that feeling of winning felt so good. We wanted to keep that momentum going. For me, that was the pivotal turning point for the Club.
There have been so many memories but do you have a particular favourite?
I've had so many really great experiences at this Club. I'd have to sit down and think for a long time about which is my favourite. There have been so many good ones.
Winning the league for the first time... Winning the FA Cup in my first FA Cup Final at Wembley... Those were such amazing experiences. Then, there are performances in the Champions League... There are a lot of things to be proud of.
I've also been honoured to meet some really amazing people. That's been a big highlight - people like Nick and Chris Williams (Goalkeeping Coach) who have really changed the way I've seen the game.
Off the pitch, one fond memory was going to Russia - our first Champions League trip. On matchday, we went to a café that was FRIENDS-themed! It was the weirdest thing to see in the middle of Russia! Those things stand out.
I remember in the early days, Krystle Johnston and I had a laundry basket race in the changing rooms! Those were some fond memories. We were just goofballs and we all enjoyed each others' company.
I think overall, winning the Continental Cup in 2014 will always hold a special place for me because it started everything...
What could the next seven years look like for the Club - and for women's football in England?
I fully expect we're really going to develop some top players. I see a few Ballon d'Ors in people's futures...
We've seen a huge acceleration in women's football in this country in terms of: Clubs getting behind the women's game, social movements and an increase in quality. We're no longer standing for being put in the backseat.
We're demanding that we deserve better than what we've had in the past. You can see that the league is attracting global talent - not only at City but across the league - and with that demand comes the need to step up to the plate and put good performances in. That's only going to increase the level and coverage of the game, which in turn should allow the game to explode.
On a wider scale, I hope to see more young girls getting involved, challenging perceptions and being more socially accepted by the wider population for young girls and women to play football.
That's what I see going forward: a celebration of sport, regardless of gender or who is playing.
Nickname: The Blues
Stadium: Kingsmeadow, Kingston-upon-Thames
Manager: Emma Hayes
Division: FA Women’s Super League (2011-present)
FA Women's Super League: 2015, 2017/18, 2019/20
FA WSL Spring Series: 2017
Premier League Southern Division: 2004/05
Women's FA Cup: 2014/15, 2017/18
FA Women's League Cup: 2019/20
Women's FA Community Shield: 2020
Surrey County Cup: 2003, 2004, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013
27 April 2014, FA Cup: City 1-3 Chelsea (Duggan)
20 July 2014, FA WSL: Chelsea 2-1 City (Flint)
7 September 2014, Continental Cup: City 1-0 Chelsea (Duggan)
12 October 2014, FA WSL: City 2-1 Chelsea (Scott, Duggan)
3 May 2015, FA Cup: Chelsea 1-0 City
10 May 2015, FA WSL: City 1-1 Chelsea (Duggan)
26 July 2015, FA WSL: Chelsea 1-2 City (Duggan, Rafferty OG)
17 April 2016, FA Cup: Chelsea 2-1 City (Ross)
19 May 2016, FA WSL: Chelsea 0-2 City (Stokes, Beattie)
25 September 2016, FA WSL: City 2-0 Chelsea (Scott, Duggan)
25 May 2017, Spring Series: City 1-0 Chelsea (Duggan)
14 January 2018, Continental Cup: Chelsea 0-1 City (Nadim)
1 February 2018, FA WSL: Chelsea 0-0 City
24 February 2018, FA WSL: City 2-2 Chelsea (Parris, Stanway)
15 April 2018, FA Cup: Chelsea 2-0 City
9 September 2018, FA WSL: Chelsea 0-0 City
6 February 2019, Continental Cup: Chelsea 0-2 City (Parris x2)
10 February 2019, FA WSL: City 2-2 Chelsea (Wullaert, Stanway)
14 April 2019, FA Cup: City 1-0 Chelsea (Eriksson OG)
8 December 2019, FA WSL: Chelsea 2-1 City (Weir)
23 February 2019, FA WSL: City 3-3 Chelsea (White, Stanway, Hemp)
29 August 2020, Community Shield: Chelsea 2-0 City
11 October 2020, FA WSL: Chelsea 3-1 City (Kelly)
Toni Duggan is City’s top scorer
against Chelsea with seven goals.
Ellen White's senior career started at Chelsea, as the striker
joined the London side as a 16-year-old in 2005.
She finished as the Club's top scorer for three consecutive seasons.
Laura Coombs had been one of Chelsea's longest-serving
players when she departed for Liverpool in 2017.
Having joined in 2011, the midfielder played a key role in the Blues' 2015 success, featuring in 27 of the 28 games as Emma Hayes'
side completed a league and FA Cup double.
Gemma Bonner also spent a year with Chelsea in 2011
and played alongside Coombs in the 2012 FA Cup Final,
while Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Marie Hourihan
joined City from Chelsea in December 2015.
JUNIOR CITYZEN OF THE MATCH
Hello and congratulations to our Junior Cityzen of the Match: Tobias Whenlock.
Tobias has supported City's women's team for around three years and really enjoyed watching the Women's World Cup in 2019.
His favourite women's player is Ellen White, while his favourite men's player is Kevin De Bruyne.
Tobias plays for his local team Horwich RMI Jets. His favourite position is attacking midfield but is happy to play anywhere.
When he was little, he loved watching Footy Pups with Rachel Yankey!
Enjoy the game, Tobias!
If you want to be our next Junior Cityzen of the Match, enter now on the Cityzens platform!
While it is obviously difficult for us as supporters to not attend games at the moment, we continue to find ways to support and follow the team in the current climate.
One popular way is our MCWFC OSC Zoom watch-alongs.
We held another one last Sunday for the Villa game and it was very popular. Members from near and far (including Canada and Brazil) joined us to cheer the team on and there were a few prizes won too in our half-time raffle!
We will continue to do these while we are unable to attend games so any members who want to join in with our next one, please keep an eye on our social media channels!
Everyone at the MCWFC OSC was very proud last week when our branch secretary Jayne Comer was elected to the City Matters panel as the Women's Supporters Representative.
The panel meets with the Club regularly and discusses all aspects important to the fans.
Anyone who knows Jayne and her passion for our Club, will know she is sure to be a great addition.
We all wish her and all the other new representatives good luck in their new roles on the panel.
We would also once again like to take this chance to say that we understand it is a difficult time for people at the moment - with everyone unable to attend games and see friends.
We all have City in common and please remember: if you need to chat, our Twitter DMs are open to all.
Looking forward to Wednesday's game... COME ON, CITY!