Caroline Weir is used to going toe-to-toe against fierce opposition for high stakes but believes the upcoming Manchester derby might just top them all.
Manchester City haven’t lost in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League since October and benefitted from unpredictable results last weekend.
Chelsea’s loss to Brighton and Manchester United being defeated by Reading meant that with City’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal they gained ground on all the other title contenders.
Victory for City on Friday will see Gareth Taylor’s side leapfrog their Manchester rivals and midfielder Weir admits there is more than just a little bit of pressure on the game.
“There’s no game like a derby! I’ve played in a few with Liverpool v Everton and City v United,” Weir said.
“I think this is probably one of the biggest ones I’ll play in, just in terms of what is at stake and the way season and table is shaping up.
“As a team, we’re super excited these are the games we want to play in and I’m glad that it’s here now.
“It’s big, it’s tight at the top and we’re coming into an important time of the season. At the same time, as much as it’s a derby we know our job and it doesn’t really change regardless of who we’re playing.
“We know we have to win and that we have to win pretty much every game and that’s how we look at it.
“There’s a little bit more pressure there because it is a derby, but at the same time we’ll focus on our job and focus on the game plan and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) February 11, 2021
With the likes of Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Chloe Kelly joining City’s ranks over the summer, it took time for Taylor’s side to find their groove.
But after winning the FA Cup at the start of November, they haven’t looked back and Weir hopes they can build on the momentum that they’ve created.
“I think it always takes time,” Weir explained. “We saw that and certain results weren’t good enough, but at the same time there was a lot of new players and a new manager.
“We were realistic that things were going to take a little bit of time to click. Just before Christmas we felt and saw things coming together and we’ve continued that in the new year, which you can see from the results.
“From the team’s point of view we are feeling good, we’re feeling like we’re getting the game plan and how Gaz wants us to play and it’s been showing in results. It’s about building on that and keeping things going and carrying on with the momentum.”
After victory over Arsenal, it’s defending champions Chelsea who sit at the top of the WSL tree but United and City are both within touching distance.
And Weir is thrilled that the excitement surrounding the title race is meeting, or even exceeding, all pre-season expectations.
She added: “Before the season started everyone was talking about how the teams were shaping up and it was looking like the squads were the most competitive they’ve been and I think the season is living up to that.
“As a fan and for the women’s game, it is definitely a positive thing. As a player you want to play in a competitive league, you want to play in games where anyone can get three points. It’s great for players, great for the clubs and great for the fans.”