Manchester City: Blue Moon Rising

Prior the beginning of the Women’s Super League season there was plenty of talk about Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City being one of the title favourites along with Chelsea and Arsenal. And for good reason, during the close season the club added Everton’s top scorer, Chloe Kelly, as well as US internationals, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, to their already strong squad.

Initially things weren’t clicking into place for City as they picked up only three wins in their first seven fixtures. That run saw a 3-1 away defeat to Chelsea but it’s the draws with Reading and Brighton which Taylor will have been most disappointed with.

That allowed their rivals Manchester United to overtake them as Chelsea’s biggest rivals for the league title. Many suggesting City were in a scrap for Champions League qualification along with Arsenal and Everton and could forget about the title.

Being fair to Gareth Taylor, Nick Cushing was in charge for seven years and despite already working within the club’s coaching set up it was always going to take a little time for him to settle into the role and for the players to adjust to his way of doing things.

It looks like Taylor and his team are now settled and United and Chelsea need to look over their shoulders! With their belated FA Cup win in November, City look to have moved on from their poor early season form, the squad appear full of confidence and ready to push for the title.

Since the 2-2 draw with Manchester United on November 14th, City have won every game, including wins against Everton and Arsenal. Fourteen goals in two games followed as they swept aside Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Last weekend’s routine 4-0 victory over West Ham United leaves City in third position, four points above Arsenal and five points behind United but with a game in hand – the pair being City’s next two opponents.

Photo: Tom Flathers Photography

One of the biggest positives from the win against the Hammers was the contribution and goal for Lavelle. The US international has struggled the make the sort of positive impact this season that she’d have hoped.

Man City Women’s Podcast’s Emma Meredith-Shone told me. “Lavelle has made a slower start to that of her international team-mate Sam Mewis, managing injury concerns that saw the 25-year-old midfield maestro sidelined for short spells intermittently. 

“However, Lavelle has shown she still has an important role to play as we head into a crucial month with upcoming fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester United. Potentially season-defining, anything less than two wins in two – you feel with scupper our title chances, taking points from the competition will keep our title aspirations alive.”

The addition of experienced US international, Abbey Delhamper, compliments the already formidable back line which includes Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood and Aoife Mannion. I can’t see the group of players conceding too many goals for the remainder of the season.

Presently I’m still putting my money on Chelsea, they are rightly overwhelming title favourites. However, I see City taking three points from an out of form Arsenal, setting up a massive derby next Friday, a game that is too close to call. But a win there for City and they will be on such a high that they will feel that they can go the rest of the season unbeaten and pip Emma Hayes’ side to the title.