Casey Stoney insisted “every game is a cup final” for Manchester United ahead of their Women’s Super League clash with Aston Villa on Sunday.
United suffered two consecutive defeats before the international break, to local rivals Manchester City and Reading, and currently sit in the third and final Champions League qualifying spot.
“Every game is a cup final for us now. Every game is a must-win,” Stoney said ahead of her side’s game against 10th-placed Villa.
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“We know that in terms of our league position but we have to focus on the process and the performance. You can never focus on the outcome, and if we can focus on that hopefully we can have a good performance on Sunday, take the three points and build confidence going into the Arsenal game.”
Stoney’s side have not played since February 12, before the international break, and she believes the time away has been a positive for her players.
“I said at the time, we needed it,” she said. “I think the players at the time needed it mentally to go to a different environment and also for those who were left to have a rest.”
Fine-tuning for Sunday 💪#MUWomen #FAWSL pic.twitter.com/6W9KA3GjoN
Arsenal captain Kim Little said the Gunners need to ensure they do not drop points against Birmingham to remain in the race for a European place.
“We have dropped a lot of points and are in a disappointing position but we still have a chance to get something from the season and I think that is all at the front of our minds,” the Scotland international told the PA news agency.
“I think looking ahead to the United game, they are slightly above us right now, we need to make sure we don’t drop points before that game – so Sunday and then against West Ham on Wednesday, they are of course must-wins to make sure we are in a position to compete with Man United for third spot.”
Manchester City defender Alex Greenwood expects a difficult challenge against Everton on Sunday.
“They’re a top side, they’ve got some key players back from injury who they’ve lost recently. So I expect a difficult game on Sunday, no game is easy in this league at the moment, everyone’s taking points off everyone,” the 27-year-old told PA.
Elsewhere, WSL leaders Chelsea travel to relegation-threatened West Ham in a bid to extend their lead at the top of the table. Bottom-placed Bristol City host Reading and Tottenham will travel to Brighton.
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