Izzy Christiansen reckons Manchester City made an early statement of intent in their 3-1 pre-season opener win over Swedish champions FC Rosengard on Sunday.
The City midfielder opened the scoring with a cool finish at the back post before Toni Duggan extended their lead in the second half. The Swedes pulled one back through Steph Houghton’s own goal but the captain redeemed herself with their third goal.
Christiansen insists last season’s runners-up can carry the momentum of beating one of the best teams in Europe at the City Football Academy into the new WSL campaign next month.
The 24-year-old said: “There was an extra incentive with it being our first game of the season.
“We won’t get carried away, they had some world-class players out injured, but we know we’ve given ourselves something really good to build on.”
City’s new recruits were all on show for the fans who braved the cold conditions at the weekend. Kosovare Asllani rattled the bar whilst Jane Ross showed some good movement up front and goalkeeper Marie Hourihan featured in the second half of the match.
With so many changes in attack, including the departures of Natasha Harding, Krystle Johnston and Natasha Flint, Nick Cushing’s forwards are working hard to adapt to each other’s games.
England midfielder Christiansen – who scored on her international debut against Estonia last September – was delighted with her opener but she’s happy to see her team win whoever puts the ball in the net.
She said: “We’re very fortunate to be able to train together as a team every day, every week. We learn about each other on and off the field, and so far, Kosovare and Jane have slotted in perfectly.
“As attackers, we want to deliver what we’re good at; we’ve got a fantastic squad with real competition for places and we want to challenge on all fronts.
“I don’t really base my performances around goals but it’s pleasing to get on the scoresheet. It’s good to be back on the pitch in front 1,000 of our fans at the CFA. I’m not going to deny it’s the best feeling in the world to score in that situation.”
The close season has been one of the busiest and most intriguing in the FA WSL’s short existence. City have strengthened their forward line with the additions of internationals Asllani and Ross, while title rivals Arsenal and champions Chelsea have also spent money to improve, and resurgent former champions Liverpool could be contenders this season.
But whilst the teams around them strive to rival City for the 2016 FA WSL crown, former Birmingham City star Christiansen insists they are focused solely on their bid to go one better than runners-up this term.
She added: “We have to just concentrate on what we are doing – and I think we’re doing that well.
“The league will be more competitive than it’s ever been and it’s a really exciting time for women’s football in England but we just want to be the best we can be. We’ve got our eyes on the prize this year.”