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Man City focused on pushing WSL champions Arsenal all the way, says Cushing

1:50 AM GMT+4 02/12/2019
Nick Cushing Arsenal split
The Citizens have won seven of their eight WSL games this season, conceding just once, but the Gunners stopped them from going top with an 11-1 win

Manchester City boss Nick Cushing isn’t fazed by what reigning champions Arsenal are doing, but focused on what his team are doing to keep up with them in what is going to be an enthralling Women’s Super League title race.

The Gunners were 11-1 winners against Bristol City in Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off before City responded to by beating bottom club Liverpool 1-0 – the same result by which Arsenal beat the Reds last weekend.

But while Vivianne Miedema was running the show at Meadow Park, Cushing was impressed with how his team ground out three points when Liverpool could well have got something from the game.

“[Arsenal have] good players who can create a lot of goals - one week you win 1-0, the next week you win 11-1. We’ll just concentrate on getting points and make sure we push them hard,” he said after the match.

“We didn’t push Arsenal the way we could’ve pushed them [last year] because these games were draws. We drew here with Reading, with Bristol, away at Bristol.

“Although we’ve controlled parts of the game and created a lot, we haven’t got the second goal, which allows the opposition to still be in the game. But we’ve fought hard, been resilient and made sure it was three points, not one.

“In 2016, when we won the league, we had a solid, dominant back five that didn’t concede a lot of goals. We’ve got that at the moment,” Cushing continued, with his team having conceded just once in their opening eight games – that in a 1-0 loss to Arsenal.

“We conceded a goal at Arsenal that we’re disappointed in - it’s unlike us, that goal, from a tactical point of view, but now we’re getting clean sheets again.

“I thought today, Ellie [Roebuck] was put under some pressure and I think if there was any doubt about where [she] is short, she answered them today.

“People question her ability, her aggression on crosses and her ability to play in the box when it’s a bit of a mess, and I thought today, it didn’t look pretty, but [she] dealt with it really well and she deserved a clean sheet.

“Now we go to Chelsea for a really important game next week.”

The Blues didn’t play this weekend, with their game at Everton called off at the last minute due to a frozen pitch.

But Emma Hayes’ side, who missed out on the top two last year despite a run to the Women’s Champions League semi-finals, have already laid down a massive marker in the title race, beating Arsenal 2-1 in October .

“It’s [a] really important [game] for us because we didn’t beat Arsenal away,” Cushing said.

“We want to make sure that in the head to heads, we stay in and around the top two so when it comes to the end of the season, we’re fighting for the trophy.

“The head to heads will play a part, but also it’s days like today - not dropping points in these moments.

“Maybe last year we were good in the [big games] because we won those games, or drew them, but then we dropped points in the other games.

“I think at some point one of the top three, as people perceive them, will drop points. You’ve seen Chelsea draw at Brighton earlier in the season.

“We’ve spoke a lot about being that team that is consistent, so if anyone does drop points, we’ve got to make sure we’re getting the three points on that day. 

“Of course, if we beat Chelsea, it puts us in an incredible position in the sense that we get back that point they have on us and we go two ahead of us. It’s an incredible opportunity.

“It’ll be a difficult game. We’ve just got to make sure we send the best possible squad in the freshest possible state we can.”