Chelsea boss Emma Hayes believes Arsenal will  put up a stern fight in the  Continental Cup final this weekend. 

The Blues face the Gunners at the City ground (Nottingham) this Saturday at 17:30 (GMT).

Manager Hayes was speaking earlier today at Cobham previewing this weekend’s final. A trophy which the Blues are yet to win, and Hayes warns that she expects Arsenal to step up for this showpiece occasion- especially considering they lost last year’s final.

‘This is Arsenal’s trophy,’ she said. ‘It’s the one they’ve won the most in recent years, the one they’ve dominated, the one they won’t let go of easily so I expect a fight.

‘It will be an aggressive Arsenal performance because they will defend that title with all their might. They have quality even with injuries so it will be a much tougher game than the league match at Boreham Wood earlier in the season.

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‘I think they will come out all guns blazing and be aggressive. They’ll look to play to their strengths, to play around us, and when they’re at their best they’ve shown they’re one of the top teams in Europe. I’m expecting to see a strong performance from Arsenal so we have to be ready for that.’

And no wonder Hayes expects perhaps the most challenging game of this season so far- especially considering the fact that the North London club have won this competition five times since it all started in 2011.

100 percent record against Arsenal this season should breed confidence going into this final

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Despite the cautious approach from Hayes in the press conference- this years’ head to head record with the Gunners should provide some real hope for Chelsea fans going into this final.

The first meeting between the two sides ended in a tight 2-1 Blues win at Kingsmeadow. However, the West Londoners more recently emphatically ran out 4-1 winners when these two sides met at Boreham Wood in the FAWSL.

A game which saw record signing Sam Kerr net her first goal for the club. The highlights from this game for anyone who didn’t watch it is below.

Everyone fit and available for selection

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The best news from the press conference came on the injury front.  Hayes confirmed every player has been training this week.

She said: ‘We’ve got all players back in training so I’ve got a fit and healthy squad going into the weekend. I thought the day off earlier in the week was good for the players to get fresh.

‘This chunk from Christmas to now is quite a long stretch so keeping your freshness is crucial. We’ve looked nice and fresh in training so everyone is really looking forward to the weekend.

‘We’ve got a great freshness on the bench and that freshness will add more and more so whether I consider a fresh approach for Saturday, I’ll contemplate that later in the week but I certainly have the options to change things up.’

Away from the final- The FAWSL title is anyone’s now

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After Chelsea’s most recent result-an emphatic 3-3 draw with title rivals Manchester City: Hayes spoke about the state of play in the race for the FAWSL title earlier in the press conference.

She said: ‘You go into games thinking they’re going to be one thing and then they turn out to be completely different. It was a credit to both teams because they both really wanted it. I thought it was a great advert for the game and everybody told me that as well.

‘It’s a point gained for us in the grand scheme of things because it will go to wire for the title race. I’d rather be in our position than one that doesn’t have that control.’

Reflection of the journey to this season’s Continental Cup Final

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This whole Continental Cup campaign this season has been mostly excellent, other than the fact that Chelsea’s only defeat this season came in the group stages on penalties against Reading.

Nevertheless, Hayes’s side have had to overcome the likes of Manchester United to make this years final.

Reflecting on the journey her side has been on in this years competition, this is what Hayes had to say.

‘Getting to this final has been our challenge because we know you can’t win something you’re not in. We haven’t been able to make it here before so that jump at Man United [in the semi-final] was so important psychologically for us as a team, to get to a point where you can compete for the trophy.

‘It’s the first one of the domestic campaign and it would be nice to go into the international break with our first Conti Cup title, our first trophy of the season. I know for our environment that this is one we really want to win.’

How to watch

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The final is being shown on BT Sport 1. Additionally- The Chelsea Echo will be providing post match content from this match.

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