Man United Women v Reading Women: Match Preview

Today marks history for United Women as they embark on their very first home game in their inaugural season - the Reds take on Reading in their second group game of the Continental Cup.

United won their first game against Liverpool last week in smash-and-grab victory, Lizzie Arnot scoring the winning goal late on.

There were many positives to take from their first game victory that fans can be excited about - namely to sparkling debut from 16-year-old Lauren James who looked like a seasoned professional dominating the midfield.

Former Bristol City captain Millie Turner also impressed across the 90 minutes - her composure, ability to regain possession and win every 1v1 battle she went in for is one of the reasons United managed to keep a clean sheet.

It is likely that after preseason, Stoney knows what her best starting XI is, but we don't yet know if it's the same 11 who started last week. After the win, Stoney could opt to keep an unchanged squad or make some changes. The likes of Chamberlain, M. Turner, Greenwood, Zelem, Arnot and Sigsworth are most likely to keep their places, but we could see the likes of Toone, Galton, Devlin, Palmer come in.

An unchanged starting XI or not, Reading won't be an easy challenge for United.  The Royals have won 4 of their last 6, including thumping victories against Everton, Liverpool and Durham.

Last week's 4-1 victory against Durham saw England international Fara Williams bag a hattrick - announcing herself as perhaps United's biggest threat today.

Williams has been capped 168 times for England, and was part of the historic squad who won Bronze at the 2015 Women's World Cup thanks to her extra time penalty against Germany - earning England's best ever World Cup finish.

Her playing career includes Everton, Liverpool and Arsenal - and last year, Williams helped Reading to a 4th place finish in FA WSL1 last year, falling only to Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Both teams will be looking to carry momentum into their opening league games in two weeks' - United face Aston Villa while Reading gets underway against Yeovil Town.

There's undoubtedly a lot of exciting brimming around this youthful Manchester United squad, especially after their win against rivals Liverpool last week, but that doesn't mean Reading should be written off.

United mustn't be complacent and treat Reading as underdogs, because that could very well come back to haunt them. Reading have a wealth of experience and club history, and they know how significant a win could be for their upcoming season - they're coming for all 3 points.

Leigh Sports Village provides the stage for this historic fixture - but while Reading come for the win, a win for United could send out a vital message to rivals - beating two top-tier teams in successive weeks and making their home ground a fortress.

The size of this club and the weight that comes with its name carries expectations and fear in the eyes of opponents - but if last week taught us anything, it's that these women know how to fight until the end for the badge.

*The game will be shown live on MUTV and kicks off at 12pm


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