9 min: First big chance, Roord scampers away down the left, slots the ball back inside and Hemp can’t beat Earps with a low shot.
7 min: Another City corner. This time it’s cleared easily enough but still United can’t get the ball in the opposing half.
6 min: Blundell plays the ball back to Earps who shanks the ball out. Nervy from United so far. Galton, usually an attacker, is back and facing Lauren Hemp. It looks like a key battle.
3 min: City have started well here. Really putting it up to United. Giving them no time on the ball.
1 min: The players take the knee ahead of kick-off, and City immediately force a corner, it causes problems, and eventually, with some relief, Mary Earps claims.
Huge noise and the Stone Roses pumping out. This is the one indeed. Massive cheers for Mary Earps, favourite for Spoty. Swearing maketh the legend. Just ask the Sex Pistols.
Old Trafford is the venue, the home of Big Red’s men’s team and despite its decay, still a storied old stadium. When it gets going, it can still get going. A light show starts proceedings off.
Weather watch, from a few miles down the road from OT. It is tipping down and has been for the last few days, too. Typical Manchester weather, though more like Norway if you ask me. Here, the culverts and drains are all overflowing.
Gareth Taylor spoke to Sky, too: “I think Alex Greenwood is vital to what we do, we have missed her. She has played in many big games so it is normal for her and a good boost for everyone but it is about the whole team stepping up.”
“The Manchester derby is perfect for us but nothing changes for our approach. We will give anything we can. We have got good options with a strong bench and will see how the game goes. But everyone has pushed hard in training this week and I like the things I have seen.”
More Marc Skinner and Sky chat: “Manchester City are an excellent team and there is going to be a game where we need to adapt within the game and the line-up does that.
“It is typical Manchester weather we know how tough it is going to be and so will Manchester City. We need to play with the freshness of a United team but I want to see a total performance and if we give that we will have a good day.”
Some full-time WSL scores from Sunday:
Everton 2-2 Bristol City
Brighton 0-3 Arsenal
Leicester 1-0 Tottenham
West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
Gareth Taylor, the Manchester City manager, spoke on the club’s official website: ““It would be nice if it became more normal, that type of occasion, but I’m sure it will be the way things are going.
“It’s hard to say until post match [if players being phased by big stadiums still exist]. I think at the moment it will probably be the [case]. I can’t speak for United players in terms of how often they play there. I know they played there a few times last season.
“Some teams tend to use the main stadiums a lot. The more familiar it is and the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel in those surroundings. It’s really hard to tell you how the players will feel in that space.
“It’s great to have a good occasions in a main stadium in front of good crowd. It’s also being shown on television. I think it makes for a good spectacle.”
The Manchester United manager, Marc Skinner, spoke to Sky:
“It’s a special event. It is going to have lots of good football I’m sure. It is going to be a spectacle but we know what to do. We have been here before, we have grown in these derbies.
“We need to go and put in a performance in front of our fans at Old Trafford because they deserve it, and our players want to do that. I’m really looking forward to it. I want to see a growth from the last time we played last year. That’s going to be important.”
Man Utd: Earps, Blundell, Le Tissier, Turner, Galton, Toone, Zelem, Naalsund, Parris, Geyse, Malard. Subs: Ladd, Riviere, Evans, Garcia, Miyazawa, Williams, Middleton-Patel, Tullis-Joyce.
Man City: Keating, Ouahabi, Kennedy, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Roord, Hasegawa, Kelly, Angeldal, Hemp, Shaw. Subs: Houghton, Coombs, Fowler, Castellanos, Morgan, Park, Casparij, MacIver, Blakstad.
It’s the big one, at Old Trafford, and it’s third v sixth, though only two points separate Marc Skinner’s United from Gareth Taylor’s City. United have made an unbeaten start to the season, and City are rueing their surprise loss to Brighton. Will playing at the club’s ancestral home rather than Leigh Sports Village inspire them? City have a formidable away record this season.
Both teams would like a win to close the gap on leaders Chelsea, who smashed Liverpool on Saturday but are feeling the turbulence of a heavy schedule and that of losing their manager at the end of the season.
Kick-off at 4.30pm. Join me.