In a busy week of top fixtures this weekend, it sees last-placed, newly promoted Bristol City face mid-table Leicester City this Sunday. The two sides have only met once, on the opening day of the 2023–24 season, which saw the Foxes come out on top. Both managers named former opponents teammates in the squad: Leicester boss Willie Kirk named Aimee Palmer in his starting XI, and Bristol boss Lauren Smith played former Fox, Carrie Jones, who put the Robins in the lead in the 38th minute. However, the second half saw Leicester up the tempo and put on an impressive performance, coming from behind to defeat Bristol City 4-2 at Ashton Gate. 

Bristol City come into this fixture off the back of a week's break due to FA Cup action. Which saw Leicester City thrash Birmingham City 6-2. The Foxes were down a goal in the early stages due to an unfortunate own goal from Missy Goodwin, as she turned the ball into the back of her net just two minutes in. Janice Cayman equalised for Leicester, with Shannon O’Brien netting the second. The Blues’ Libby Smith got one back for Birmingham, but not for long as O’Brien, assisted by Sam Tierney, put Leicester back in the lead, just before halftime. The second half saw goals from newly signed Japan international Saori Takara, number 7 striker Deanne Rose, and captain Aileen Whelan. Throwing Leicester firmly into the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, where they will face Liverpool away next month. 

Leicester boss Willie Kirk has said this is a game “we should win; the pressure is on the players to win. This is a must-win game,” and with the game being held at home at King Power Stadium, it looks promising for the Foxes to close the gap on Tottenham Hotspur and secure another three points. 

As for their opponents on Sunday, Bristol City, their recent form has left them in an increasingly vulnerable position, five points adrift from safety. Their most recent fixture saw the Hammers take the victory at Ashton Gate 2-1 after Viviane Asseyi netted the 55th-minute winner. However, with 46% possession for the Robins and a pass accuracy of 68%, it is looking more and more promising for Bristol City to stay in the WSL next season. 

 

TEAM NEWS

Leicester City

Young English winger Missy Goodwin picked up an illness during this week's training. Therefore, her workload has been reduced, but she is still an option at the moment for Willie Kirk. Denny Draper and Simone Sherwood, who have returned after playing for England Under-17s, will be eyeing up a spot in the squad on Sunday. However, German forward Lena Petermann is still out with a hamstring injury, and another player, whom Kirk has refused to name, has withdrawn early from Thursday’s training session. 

Bristol City

As for the visitors, injuries continue to prevent them from using Fran Bentley, Satara Murray, and Rachel Furness. 

In addition, Smith has stated that Abi Harrison is out due to an ankle injury, predicting a few weeks on the sidelines, which also takes her out of the Scottish International squad. She is due to return shortly after the international break. Sarah Stratigakis will also not play against the Foxes due to sickness. 

 

ONES TO WATCH

Leicester City - Saori Takarada

The Japanese international midfielder Saori Takarada is a new signing for the Foxes this year, and she certainly hasn’t disappointed on the quality front. Takarada has been praised by the Leicester boss, Willie Kirk, for her close control after her technical ability shone through against Birmingham City last time out. 

The versatile player plays in both central defence and midfield and plays a significant role on the defensive side of the ball with her ability to cover large areas of space and make regular and effective defensive interceptions. Not only that, but the midfielder can turn and launch perfect cross-field balls out wide, like we saw last weekend when Janice Cayman was assisted a neatly threaded ball from Tarada to slot in Leicester's equaliser. 

 


Bristol City - Amalie Thestrup

Danish striker Amalie Thestrup continued her fine form last week, netting her seventh goal of the campaign against WSL side Aston Villa. It places her in the top spot in terms of goalscorers at Bristol City. In fact, Thestrup has been vital for the Robins this year, striking a salvaging point at Everton, the only home goal against her former club West Ham United, clinching a draw with sixth-placed Liverpool, and many more. 

Any team’s initial expectation of a striker is that they should always be attacking, and Thestrup certainly delivers on that field. She always positions herself in the best way to allow her team to get the ball into her path, with her excellent spatial awareness. One of the many reasons she has attracted the attention of teams like Liverpool, Roma, West Ham, and now Bristol City. 

 

LIKELY LINEUPS



Leicester City

Leitzig, Nevin, Tierney, Rantala, Petermann, Cayman, Green, Takarada, Thibaud, O’Brien, Momiki.

 

Bristol City

Yanez, Powell, Connolly, Layzell, Napier, Jones, Syme, Rodgers, Morgan, Evans, Thestrup.