The first trophy of the season is up for grabs this Saturday and it's going to be decided between the Londoners. One is the mighty Arsenal who boasts 5 continental titles to their name. The most successful women's team in the United Kingdom up against their arch-rivals and nemesis this season, Chelsea.
The road to the final
Arsenal (record 5 times winners) beat holders Manchester City 2-1. They reached the final for the eighth time since 2011.
Arsenal's road to the final:
London City Lionesses vs Arsenal 0:5 (Mead x3, Roord, Mitchell)
Arsenal vs Charlton Athletic Women 4:0 (van de Donk x2, Mead, Beattie)
Brighton & Hove Albion Women vs Arsenal 0:0 (4:2 on penalties)
Arsenal vs Bristol City Women 7:0 (Little x2, Miedema x2, Roord, Nobbs, Beattie)
Arsenal vs London Bees 9:0 (McCabe x3, Filis x3, Evans x2, Mead)
Arsenal vs Reading Women 1:0 (Little)
Arsenal vs Manchester City Women 2:1 (Miedema, van de Donk)
So... The team has played 7 games and scored 28 goals
Chelsea reached their first final after win 1-0 against Manchester United in the semi-finals.
Chelsea's road to the final:
Chelsea vs West Ham United 2:0 (England, Reiten)
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea 0:3 (England x2, Spence)
Lewes vs Chelsea 1:2 (Cuthbert, Eriksson)
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspurs 5:1 (England x2, Cuthbert, Spence, Cooper)
Chelsea vs Reading Women 1:1 (2:4 on penalties)
Chelsea vs Aston Villa 3:1 (Eriksson, Ji So-Yun, Murphy)
Manchester United Women vs Chelsea 0:1 (Mjelde)
They have played 7 games and scored 17 goals.
Arsenal against Chelsea has always been a top fixture in women's football. In the last five meetings, Chelsea came out on top in 3 matches while Arsenal won 1 and the other being a draw. Below is the list of recent meetings between them.
Chelsea XI: Cary Telford (GK), Magdalena Eriksson,, Millie Bright, Jonna Andersson, Sophie Ingle, Maren Mjelde, Guro Reitan, So-yun Ji, Erin Cuthbert, Samantha Kerr, Bethany England
Arsenal XI: Manuela Zinsberger( GK), Leah Williamson, Jennifer Beattie, Katie McCabe, Leonie Maier, Victoria Schnaderbeck, Danielle van de Donk, Lisa Evans, Jordan Nobbs, Caitlin Foord, Vivianne Miedema
What to expect:
Arsenal vs Chelsea, do we need anything else? It has that emotion, rivalry and the passion they have. Having said that, this is going to be a tactical battle where Chelsea will come out of their blocks and press high up the pitch. Arsenal movements will be playing a key role in deciding the outcome of this match. They have the players who can come out against the high-press and if they can get their act together, it is going to be a long day for Chelsea. Arsenal's struggling with a lot of injuries, a few key players are out for some time, but this team is still dangerous. We're all aware of the fact that Chelsea is probably team which is the favorite to win, but I think that Arsenal is the team that should be treated with respect. Chelsea possesses high quality attacking talent in the name of Bethany England. Samantha Kerr and So-yun Ji who can tear apart defenses in a matter of time.
Vivianne Miedema vs Magdalena Eriksson:
The GOAT against the mighty one. This is going to be the key battle that every women's football fan can expect. Europe's prolific goal scorer against the defensive block from Sweden. Viv can unbalance and open up the defense with ease. She can play as a false nine and create spaces for others to exploit, due to the fact that she used to play as a 10 in the previous stages of her football career.
Containing Viv is going to be a herculean task for Eriksson. If she can shut down the spaces and keep Viv quiet, Chelsea has chances to win the battle. Magdalena can be that defender who can nullify the aerial threat which Viv posses and it is going to be exciting to watch these two go toe-on-toe.
Danielle van de Donk vs Guro Reiten:
The engines that hold the play and tempo of their team. Danielle van de Donk gives the energy to this Arsenal team with her work rate and runs behind the defense. She has the knack of scoring goals in this type of crunch matches. She has eyes on every prize so she definitely won't give up and will be very dangerous for Chelsea's defensive block.
Guro Reitan is the player that every club would love to have. She can play through balls dissecting the defense. She played a key role when Chelsea won 4:1 against Arsenal in the recent fixture. She is the one who can get into the final third of the pitch and put those sleek passes. Reitan combining with Ji will be playing a key role in matching the Arsenal's midfield.
Leah Williamson vs Bethany England:
Every England fan would love to see these two to play together. And it's a London Derby and it can't just happen. They just need to wait until the She Believes Cup. Both these players hold the clubs close to their hearts. Leah is that versatile player who can break the defenses with the long balls( especially diagonal passes). Chelsea playing a high pressing game would perfectly fall into Arsenal's hands if Leah does what she does best.
Bethany England can score goals with her right foot, left foot and her head. Her combination play and partnership with Kerr play a key role. She did the damage against the Arsenal when they faced each other recently.
If Leah and her defense can stop this duo, Arsenal has every chance to regain the title which they love.
“There’s always a motivation, especially in these big games. Obviously the other team we’re playing against have unfortunately beaten us twice this year, so it’s a great opportunity to right the wrongs. In the second game, which was probably the more evident game in terms of their power and ability to come out of the blocks, obviously they got the better of us in the first 20 minutes. They were powerful in that phase and we just weren’t able to bounce back, but we’re prepared for this one.
We love our cup finals. It’s what we play for and it’s what we enjoy in the season. It’s what being a professional footballer and being in the professional game is all about. It’s another opportunity to showcase two fantastic teams and another opportunity to play some great football on a great stage.”
"This is Arsenal’s trophy. 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. 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."
Going by the history of the competition and Chelsea defensive woes against City last week, Arsenal to win 2-1. Having said that, it is going to be a tactical battle and a low scoring match.
Please leave your thoughts and predictions below.