Gemma Bonner expects Manchester showdown to follow the usual derby rules

Manchester City’s Gemma Bonner feels “all form goes out of the window” when it comes to Saturday’s derby clash with Women’s Super League leaders Manchester United.

United head into the contest at Leigh Sports Village unbeaten in the league this season and on a five-match winning streak, with the latest victory for Casey Stoney’s side a 1-0 win over Arsenal last weekend.

The more mixed start for Gareth Taylor’s fifth-placed City – who won the FA Cup earlier this month – has included a loss and two draws in their six league games so far.

City defender Bonner told the PA news agency: “First and foremost it’s a derby, and I suppose all form goes out of the window.

“It will be a tough game. We’ll be fully prepared for the strength they have got.

“They’ll be very confident in terms of the results they have had lately, but we’re confident also within the squad that we’ve built.”

The match is set to see four American World Cup winners new to the division this term in action – Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle for City, and Tobin Heath and Christen Press for United.

Bonner says Mewis and Lavelle have “seamlessly fitted into the group”, and added: “For us as players, we want to be playing with and against the best players.

“The standard in the league is only going to get better and better with the likes of them coming over. We are so lucky to have them and I think the more games we play, the more you will see the best of them.”

Mewis, Lavelle, Heath and Press were among a number of high-profile arrivals in the last transfer window adding to the list of stars in the WSL, generating further excitement around a competition that went fully professional in 2018 and linked up with title sponsor Barclays a year later.

In November 2019, more than 75,000 fans attended WSL and Championship fixtures during the inaugural ‘Women’s Football Weekend’, which included Tottenham v Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Liverpool v Everton at Anfield.

Saturday’s United-City contest is the opening game of this weekend’s behind-closed-doors version, in which six WSL fixtures will be staggered and can all be watched via television or streaming platforms live without clashes.

The action also includes the Aston Villa-Birmingham derby, and Arsenal hosting champions Chelsea on Sunday.

“I think our league is probably becoming one of the best in the world,” Bonner said.

“You look at the players that have come, especially this season, the players we’ve got in the league – we probably have most of the top 10 players in the world.

American World Cup winners Sam Mewis (pictured) and Rose Lavelle joined City in August (Martin Rickett/PA).
American World Cup winners Sam Mewis (pictured) and Rose Lavelle joined City in August (Martin Rickett/PA).

“So for us, it is an exciting time, and I think more exciting with the games coming up, and the fact everyone is talking about the big derbies now.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of women’s football for sure.”

Five Women’s Championship games, all kicking off at 2pm on Sunday, will be available to watch on the FA Player.

:: Manchester City take on Manchester United in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League on Saturday November 14 at 12:30pm – watch for free on BT Sport