We have to ‘get under Arsenal’s skin,’ says Marc Skinner ahead of decisive WSL clash

Marc Skinner spoke to the media on Thursday as Manchester United gear up for a trip to the capital to face Arsenal at Emirates Stadium in the Barclays Women’s Super League.

Manchester United have had a successful recent history with Arsenal, having not come out the losing side of a meeting in their past four consecutive clashes. Speaking to the media in his pre-match press conference, Skinner expressed his desired intent for his side’s upcoming clash with the Gunners.

‘I think we’re unbeaten in four [against Arsenal], and we need to be the team that gets under the skin of Arsenal. I think it’s one of those factors that we have to try and win the game, and that’s what we’re going to try and do.’

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Manchester United currently occupy fourth position on the Barclays Women’s Super League table, faced with a four-point deficit to make up if the Red Devils want to catch the tail of their upcoming opponents.

A victory on Saturday will catapult Manchester United in to a desirable position within the race for European qualification, though a converse defeat will widen the gaping margin to a seven point distinction.

Skinner spoke on how he views his side’s current rung position on the league ladder, expressing that despite the title race woes, his focus will not stray from a pending meeting with the Gunners.

‘Obviously statistically we wouldn’t be [in the run for the title race] but I mean realistically, probably. Even at this moment, the points between us and Chelsea are obviously great and they don’t lose many games, so, on historical data probably that’s going to be very difficult. But for us, we have to go and perform against Arsenal.’

Despite last night’s Conti Cup victory against the London City Lionesses, Manchester United’s upcoming opponents have found themselves in a difficult trough over recent weeks. Having faced elimination from the Adobe Women’s FA Cup last weekend, and falling to derby day defeat at the hands of West Ham United the Sunday prior, the Gunners will be eagerly looking to resurge their fall in form.

Skinner spoke on whether he regards Saturday’s meeting an undesirable time to face off with Jonas Eidevall’s side, expressing that his focus will not stray too far from the immediate task at hand.

‘Arsenal are a difficult team. Arsenal play nice football, have fantastic individuals, so I think it’s going to be tough. But we have to be that agitator, we have to be the one that can get under their skin. We have to be the team that doesn’t just try and win one way, and I think that is going to be key going into this game.’

Not only is Saturday’s fixture a high-stakes meeting for both sides, but the clash will be played in front of a packed out Emirates Stadium. The projected sell-out will be sure to bring the noise, adding another notable influence that Skinner’s side will have to involve in their matchday preparations.

‘We have to try and silence a massive crowd, which if we can do it then fun! If not, it could be a long [day]. So we know the challenges that are going to face us, but we have to be the ones that can get under Arsenal’s skin and make sure that we try and perform to the best of our ability.’.

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Stepping away from the upcoming fixture in the Barclays Women’s Super League, last Sunday’s meeting with Southampton in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup saw Lionesses star Mary Earps make yet another appearance between the goalposts. Despite having spoken of summer signing in Phallon Tullis-Joyce in high regard over recent months, the American international is slow to feature in Skinner’s outfit.

Skinner reflected on his positive goalkeeping conundrum, expressing that Tullis-Joyce will feature when he deems right.

‘Whenever you looked at my games before, I played Mary [Earps]. In the FA Cup, in the knock-out Cup, I played Mary and I continue to do that so far this season. I recently had a meeting with Phallon [Tullis-Joyce] just to catch up really, just to reiterate the qualities she has. She’s a fantastic goalkeeper, but she’s also behind the world’s number one goalkeeper.’

‘The beauty of Phallon is that she wants to raise her game to try and get to Mary’s standard. Mary’s difference is in the mind, like the way she thinks, the way she moves, the way she prepares. She almost sees the danger before it comes, and I think for us, I’m in that fortunate but unfortunate position of having to not play one of them. Mary is at the highest of levels, and Phallon wants to get there.’

Manchester United will travel to London on Saturday as they face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in a highly anticipated Barclays Women’s Super League clash.