Old pals act must end for 90 min­utes!

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Tony Leighton

MANCHESTER City full-back Lucy Bronze is aim­ing to beat some of her best pals into Su­per League sub­mis­sion when City meet ti­tle ri­vals Chelsea to­day (2pm).

Bronze will be back in club ac­tion af­ter re­turn­ing from in­ter­na­tional duty with Eng­land, who beat Es­to­nia and Bel­gium in Euro 2017 qual­i­fiers.

Six of the 24-year-old de­fender’s City col­leagues were also in Mark Samp­son’s na­tional squad – as were six Chelsea play­ers!

Mas­sive

So, with City need­ing just a draw at their Academy Sta­dium against the reign­ing WSL cham­pi­ons to claim the ti­tle for the first time, friends are set to be­come foes.

“When we’re in Eng­land camp with the Chelsea girls, we’re all best mates,” said Bronze, “but it’s go­ing to be to­tally dif­fer­ent in this mas­sive WSL game.

“We’re des­per­ate to win the league and, af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ners-up to Chelsea by just a cou­ple of points last sea­son, we’re de­ter­mined to do it this time. “And we don’t want to have to set­tle for a draw to do it. We want to take the ti­tle with a good vic­tory in front of our home sup­port­ers.” City have had two pre­vi­ous meet­ings with Chelsea this sea­son, both away, los­ing the FA Cup semi-fi­nal 2-1 af­ter ex­tra-time but then win­ning their WSL game 2-0. “The FA Cup tie was very dis­ap­point­ing,” said Bronze. “I don’t think we got what we de­served from our per­for­mance and that cost us a Wem­b­ley fi­nal. “But then, in the league game, we def­i­nitely got what we de­served. It was an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance that got us three big points.” City have gone on col­lect­ing points and are the only team in the en­tire WSL to re­main un­beaten, while Chelsea have suf­fered two league de­feats. The con­sis­tency that City have shown from the start of the sea­son is the rea­son they are in the ti­tle driv­ing seat, un­like their ef­forts last term A slow start to the cam­paign meant they col­lected just five points from their

first five games, af­ter which they were al­ways play­ing catch-up.

“We were hit by in­juries early on last year,” said Bronze, “and un­for­tu­nately we didn’t have the strength in depth that we’ve got this sea­son.

“We’ve now got good cover in ev­ery po­si­tion and we’ve never dropped our per­for­mance lev­els in what I think has been a great sea­son for us.”

Fo­cused

City will cap the sea­son off nicely if they can clinch the WSL ti­tle to­day and then win the Con­ti­nen­tal Cup fi­nal against Birm­ing­ham City next week.

But Bronze, a WSL win­ner with her pre­vi­ous club Liver­pool in both 2013 and 2014, is think­ing only of to­day’s vi­tal clash with Chelsea.

The for­mer Sun­der­land and Ever­ton player said: “If we gave the Conti Cup fi­nal even a thought at the mo­ment, we could take our eye off the ball.

“But that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. Ev­ery player at the club is fo­cused on win­ning a first league ti­tle for Manchester City.

“I know just how amaz­ing it feels to win the league and I want that feel­ing again – not just for me but for my team mates, the staff, the club and our fans.”

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