Chelsea Women’s hunt for their first ever Continental Cup trophy (FA Womens League Cup) may come to an end if they defeat rival London club Arsenal Women on Saturday.
The Blues come into this final on outstanding form- only being defeat once so far in all competitions this season.
The only defeat this season came in a penalty shoot-out loss to Kelly Chambers’s Reading side in the group stages of the Continental Cup.
But with the Blues going strong in the FAWSL and the Women’s FA Cup- a victory in this cup final to end the drought of no Continental Cups could really give Hayes’s side the confidence and bounce they need to go on and win multiple trophies this season.
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Match and Ticket Information
Kick Off time- 17:30 (GMT)
Where to watch- BT Sport 1
Venue- The City Ground (Nottingham)
Tickets are available to buy on the day at the ground- £10 for adults and £1 for concessions.
Team NewsEmbed from Getty Images
Like Emma Hayes said in her press conference yesterday-every player has been training this week for the Blues meaning that Hayes is likely to have a fully fresh and fit squad to choose from (with the exception of Frank Kirby) for this final.
Arsenal remain without Beth Mead, Kim Little and Lia Wälti the trio all suffering injuries in recent weeks. They join Danielle Carter and Katrine Veje on the sidelines.
After making changes against Lewes last weekend, Joe Montemurro will recall the likes of Miedema, Leah Williamson and Lisa Evans for this crunch clash.
Predicted starting line-ups
Chelsea’s predicted starting XI: Berger; Mjelde, Bright, Ericsson, Andersson; Cuthbert, Ingle, Reiten; Ji; Kerr, England.
Arsenal’s predicted starting XI: Zinsberger; Maier, Williamson, Schnaderbeck, McCabe; Van de Donk, Roord; Evans, Nobbs, Foord; Miedema.
How both teams got to the finalEmbed from Getty Images
Both sides had to progress through difficult semi-finals to get to this final. The Blues managed to sneak a 1-0 away victory against Manchester United women courtesy of a second half goal from Blues midfielder Maren Mjelde.
Here is that iconic moment encase you haven’t seen it:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TBT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TBT</a> to <a href=”https://twitter.com/MarenMjelde?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@MarenMjelde</a>’s match-winner in the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/ContiCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#ContiCup</a> semi-final! 🤩 <a href=”https://t.co/VB8AFay4Xu”>pic.twitter.com/VB8AFay4Xu</a></p>— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ChelseaFCW/status/1233056031133110274?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>February 27, 2020</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The Gunners on the other hand were able to knock out Manchester City with a 2-1 victory courtesy of goals from top scorer Vivianne Miedema and Van de Donk.
Head to HeadEmbed from Getty Images
Chelsea against Arsenal has always been a huge fixture in women’s top-flight football. Since the 2011 inaugural Women’s Super League season, the two sides have met over 25 times in all competitions. The Blues struggled against the Gunners for the first few years and it was not until July 2014 that we registered our first win. Yuki Ogimi and Ji So-Yun scored our two goals in a 2-1 victory at our old home Wheatsheaf Park.
The Blues have defeated the Gunners twice this season in the FAWSL- 2-1 at home and more recently 4-1 at Boreham Wood.
In the 4-1 success- Sam Kerr’s first goal for Chelsea and Sophie Ingle’s wonder strike were two of many moments that will be best remembered from the game.
Here is the Ingle goal from that game:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Had the perfect view for Sophie Ingle’s goal for Chelsea against Arsenal yesterday – from lower down, you got a better sense of the trajectory and the technique involved <a href=”https://t.co/IuS7dumbYC”>pic.twitter.com/IuS7dumbYC</a></p>— Conor Pope (@Conorpope) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Conorpope/status/1219202786144980992?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>January 20, 2020</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Key Battles to watch out forEmbed from Getty Images
The fact that these two teams are full of quality- it would be difficult to choose which one player from each side to look out for. So Instead, here are a few key battles to watch out for.
Bethany England versus the whole Arsenal back four- earlier this season in Chelsea’s emphatic 4-1 victory over the Gunners, England was too hot to handle for the Arsenal rearguard, and as a result the whole attack on that occasion for the Blues had so much joy. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Gunners have learnt their lesson on Saturday when they come up against the same front three.
Beth England scored the first goal of the game and if she was more ruthless in front of goal on that occasion, could have had more. Arsenal will not want a repeat of that in this cup final tomorrow.
Vivianne Miedema versus the whole Chelsea back four- The Dutch striker is arguable the best striker in Women’s football. Interestingly enough though, the 23-year-old has failed to score in two attempts so far against Chelsea this season. Could it be third time lucky for the striker? The Chelsea defence would certainly hope not.
The midfield battle- both midfield’s are littered with quality. However the Blues have had the better of the midfield battle in the two game so far this season against the Gunners. The defensive and attacking qualities of Sophie Ingle, coupled with Guro Reiten’s versatility and work rate really has overpowered Arsenal’s midfield on the previous two occasions. But as it’s a cup final- anything can happen. But a key element of the midfield battle ahead of the cup final is which one can provide the best service to the strikers. It’s going to be Ji vs Van De Donk and to suggest who may come out on top is a difficult judgement to make. So we will see what happens on Saturday.
The battle of the English centre-backs- Millie Bright and Leah Williamson will both be wanting to make a point to Phil Neville ahead of the She Believes Cup and the Euros next year. Bright always use to start with Steph Houghton, but since Williamson has entered the scene, Bright’s position in the Lionesses back four has been uncertain. So both players will be looking to make good impressions on Phil Neville tomorrow with solid performances at the back.
Players thoughts ahead of the match
Millie Bright adamant previous results won’t taint mindset preparing for such a big finalEmbed from Getty Images
Despite Chelsea’s two successes against their London rivals this season in the FAWSL, the 26-year-old insists that previous results wont come into factor in preparation for the game.
‘I think you have to put past results and past performances to the side,’ she said.
‘It’s a cup game, everyone is always geared up for a cup game and we were once in Arsenal’s position where we had a heavy defeat at home so we know how that feels.
‘We know how that hurts as players and as a club so we are definitely not going to let that happen again.
‘It’s the two best teams going head-to-head so for me it’s who turns up on the day and who executes their game plan, and shows that resilience and determination to go on and lift the trophy.
(Quotes courtesy of chelseafc.com)
Captain Magdalena Eriksson eyeing winning competition for the first timeEmbed from Getty Images
Like mentioned before, this is the only competition that the Blues haven’t won and as a result the captain is determined to make this years final the first they win.
“It’s been like our mantra the whole year, the Continental Cup: ‘We’ve never won this, we’ve never won this,’” Eriksson says, before Saturday’s final against Arsenal in Nottingham.
“It has been the fuel in every game we’ve played in the tournament. I think we are all, honest to God, a bit tired of Emma [Hayes, the manager] saying it, so we said: ‘OK, now we’re going to win this so she can’t say it any more.’”
(Quotes courtesy of theguardian.com)
Betting Odds and PredictionEmbed from Getty Images
Sky Bet are pricing Chelsea at 8/11 to lift the Continental Cup on Sunday, whilst Arsenal are being priced at 7/2.
My prediction for this game is a 2-1 hard fought victory to Chelsea.
Comment down below your score predictions.