‘We won’t make the narrative about Alessia. It’s about how Manchester United can beat Arsenal’, says Marc Skinner
MARC SKINNER reckons Arsenal should be scared to face Manchester United should his aces put on their very best display on Friday.
And the Red Devils aims to exploit their knowledge of Alessia Russo’s game when the ex-United ace visits her old stomping ground with the Gunners.
The Friday night clash at United’s home could see Russo, 24, in action against her former club for the first time since her free transfer to Arsenal in July.
The last league duel between the teams at Leigh Sports Village ended as a 1-0 win for the Manchester giants, with Russo bagging a first-half winner in April.
And Skinner says his side’s focus will be on how they can beat their title rivals who hope to avoid a fourth straight loss in the WSL.
The Red Devils boss, 40, said: “I get the rhetoric around it, but I won’t be making the narrative about Alessia.
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“My narrative is about how my team can beat Arsenal.
“She’s not our player anymore so you prepare for her like she’s the opponent.
“You give her the respect that you know she can give you in terms of her qualities on the field.
“But (it’s) also then about how to exploit her. She’ll know that and she’ll know how diligent we are in our work.
“For us we are going to prepare as Manchester United to be the very best version of ourselves.
“If we can do that, then Arsenal should be scared of that, so it doesn’t matter then what they do.
“Arsenal can attack, they’ve invested a hell of a lot over many years to have the attacking lineup that they have.
“From our perspective, I’ve got to prepare my team to beat the opponent that we’re playing against.”
Jonas Eidevall’s side’s visit follows their surprise 1-0 home loss to Liverpool in their WSL season opener at the Emirates.
A loss on the road to the club who beat them home and away last term would see the Gunners go six points behind United ahead of their home clash with Aston Villa.
Skinner added: “You’d like to think that they (Arsenal) are a wounded animal, but we all know that if they’re wounded then they can come out and be a very good version of themselves.
“We have to match that and we have to go above that.
“We are at home or in front of a sold out (Leigh Sports Village) fans.
“The venue will be rocking and we want to make it a fortress again, so our players have to take that mindset.”
Man United’s duel with Arsenal could see their opponents come up against some of the Red Devils’ new summer signings including forward Geyse.
The fleet-footed Brazil star, who has 48 senior international caps, was part of the Barcelona team that beat Wolfsburg and lifted their second Champions League trophy in June.
And she shone on the wing in her WSL debut on Sunday with United beating ten-player Aston Villa 2-1 on the road.
On the mindset of United’s new stars ahead of this game, Skinner added: “If I look at how I want Geyse to play in this game, then you’ve got to look at her focusing on that rather than the occasion.
“The beauty of the players we’ve recruited is they’ve been in big situations, they’re used to it.
“Part of the attraction (in signing them) is to bring not only their qualities but their mindset to our performances.
“I think they’ll enjoy it. Life’s too short to not go into these games and try your very best to win.”
Aside from new signings who include World Cup-winning Spain midfielder Irene Guerrero, United will be relying on their established seasoned WSL pros such as Nikita Parris and Rachel Williams.
Skinner hailed Williams, who has entered her 13th year in the WSL, for her ability to deliver match-winning cameo performances.
He added: “Rachel just strikes fear into the opponent.
“She should be a cult hero for Manchester United because of what she does for our team and what she does for our fans.
“I think they love her now and for me a side note and a side story to successes at Manchester United is when players go out and make their own narrative.
“Hers is one that I’ve really enjoyed watching.”
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