Last weekend, Leicester were knocked out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Fourth Round by Reading, though did manage to push the Royals all the way to a penalty shootout at Pirelli Stadium.
Now heading back home to King Power Stadium, Kirk spoke to the media and previewed a big Barclays Women’s Super League clash coming up against the Citizens on Saturday (11:30am GMT kick-off).
FA Cup defeat
Leicester were beaten by Reading 3-2 on penalties at Pirelli Stadium.
Despite it being the away team who progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the Foxes were level after 90 and then 120 minutes. However, losing in the fashion they did is never easy, and Kirk explained how this weekend provides a chance of a quick turnaround.
“We were a little bit frustrated after the FA Cup loss, we feel it’s a game we should’ve won,” the 44-year-old stated in Thursday’s press conference. “We’ve not analysed anything after the 120 minutes, as penalties are penalties, sometimes it goes for you and sometimes it doesn’t.
“We were happy with our performance during the game, and during a normal league game we would’ve gained a point which is a decent result, but still frustrating.
“But we move onto the next game and analyse the team we face next, which is Man City, so there’s not been much time to dwell on the cup loss.
“We are all comfortable at Belvoir Drive and believe we’re heading in the right direction. We are very happy with our performances, and it’s just about making sure it all comes together, and that we get tangible points at the end of the match.”
Georgia Eaton-Collins was one of five January signings for the Foxes.
With the winter transfer window coming to a close on Tuesday evening, the Scotsman was asked about his incomings, and the impact they will have on the remainder of the 2022/23 season.
“I was really happy to get five in,” he continued. “We’ve improved the squad which was the ultimate objective at the start of the window. We set out to get certain numbers in certain positions and I feel like we’ve accomplished that.
“It suited both parties (Natasha Flint going on loan to Celtic). It had been done a few weeks before, but she picked up a little knock which delayed the process, but I think it’s a fresh start for Tash and a new challenge which is positive. The way we're shaping up, and how we want to play, it left it the right decision for both sides.
I must admit, the five have been fantastic additions, in terms of what they add to the pitch, but also the environment. Remy [Siemsen] is just getting on the pitch now, which is a positive.
“All of the new players add different things to the team, and I’ve been impressed with their introduction so far.”
Manchester City Women
Manchester City Women in action at Academy Stadium.
Looking ahead, Man City prove to be the next test, when the side currently unbeaten in 15 games arrive on Filbert Way.
Preparing to face one of the top teams in the country, who are fighting for a UEFA Women's Champions League qualification spot, will be no easy task, but the manager is confident they can use the Continental Tyres League Cup defeat two weeks ago as a learning curve.
He added: “We had a really good performance against Man City in the cup, where they scored against us in the last minute. I think that may go against us, as they will not take us lightly, but that just means we must up our performance.
“I think we’re capable of doing that. We were really struggling with numbers at Pirelli Stadium and that will not be the case this weekend, so I think we can put out a stronger team and therefore produce an improved display.
“Without a doubt, Man City are one of the best sides in Europe, let alone the country. But these are the challenges we should be playing in, and I’m sure the players will relish it.”
Learning from cup action
Ava Baker has heavily featured in the senior squad since the turn of the year.
After a successful outing in the North East, City were eliminated from Group B of the League Cup after defeat to the Citizens, but Kirk believes each game provides a new opportunity to work on drills from the training ground.
“We’ve got to do better in the transitional moments when we look to create opportunities,” the former Everton manager explained. “We let a lot of passes and chances to slip by, but we’ve looked at those chances and it probably totalled to a higher number than we’ve ever had against one of those top teams.
“So, we’ll learn from that, and we’ll be more clinical. We’ve been working on how we improve our box entries and increasing our number of chances. We’ve got to continue to play aggressive football and be comfortable with space in behind us.
“We need to play against space rather than opponents because Man City have these clever movements that can play with your head. So, we need to be disciplined in terms of how we defend.”
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