SSE WOMEN’S FA CUP FINAL: Arsenal Ladies Preview

“It is massive that the final is at Wembley. It has always been the showpiece event of women’s football, and to now have it at the home of football and attract the big crowd it deserves is massive for the game.”– Alex Scott

“I don’t think there is any question that Chelsea have a very good front line as well as players on the bench they can bring on. We have just got to concentrate on ourselves and make sure our game is right. If we deliver to our capabilities then it should be a good game.”– Dan Carter

After missing out on last year’s FA Cup Final, Arsenal Ladies are back where they belong as they take on Chelsea Ladies at Wembley this weekend. Arsenal are the most successful side in English women’s football and subsequently will be looking to add another trophy to their extensive collection. Having won the FA Cup trophy on thirteen occasions, Arsenal will be hoping to make it fourteen against Chelsea.

Following the emergence of Chelsea Ladies, Liverpool Ladies and Manchester City Women in the top division, Arsenal have not had it all their own way in recent years. The club have not won the FA WSL1 since 2012 and last won the FA Cup in the 2014 season. They did, however, win the FA WSL Cup last year for the fourth time.

Looking back at their route to the final this year, it would seem that Arsenal did not make life easy for themselves. A fifth round penalty shoot-out against Birmingham City was then followed up by a Quarter-Final penalty shoot-out against Notts County. Their emphatic 7-0 victory against Sunderland Ladies in the Semi-Final, however, demonstrated the kind of quality the current squad possesses.

The last time Arsenal lifted the FA Cup trophy was in 2014. That day Arsenal beat Everton 2-0 courtesy of goals from Kelly Smith and Yukari Kinga. Two of their players Niamh Fahey and Jade Bailey have since joined Chelsea Ladies and may potentially line up against their former club in the final.

Pedro Martinez Losa will have full faith in the squad he has built since August 2014, however, with a large number of quality players on the books. Sari Van Veenendaal, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Dominique Janssen, Josephine Henning, Jordan Nobbs, Leah Williamson, Dan Carter, Natalia Pablos Sanchon, Danielle Van De Donk, Fara Williams, Asisat Oshoala and Kelly Smith are just a few of Losa’s options for the final.

It has been suggested that perhaps the size of Arsenal’s squad is working against them. The club find themselves in third in the FA WSL1 table currently, having won two of their five opening fixtures. With so many players wanting game time, it may be difficult to generate the necessary chemistry and understanding to make a push for the title. That being said, having too much talent at the club is always going to be better than not having enough.

Having won the FA Cup trophy on thirteen occasions, there is plenty of experience in the Arsenal ranks when it comes to the competition. Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Dan Carter, Kelly Smith and Leah Williamson were all part of the squad in 2014. Scott, Stoney and Smith will add the necessary experience in the 2016 final having lifted the FA Cup trophy on a number of occasions.

While it is somewhat strange to suggest given their vast history, Arsenal will probably be underdogs for their first FA Cup final at the new Wembley Stadium. This being said, they possess enough quality to win the title. With the added incentive of playing against their local London rivals, it will no doubt be a game to remember either way.

Arsenal Ladies Route To The Final

Fifth Round: Birmingham City 1-1 Arsenal Ladies (Arsenal Win 5-3 on penalties)

Quarter-Final: Arsenal Ladies 2-2 Notts County Ladies (Arsenal win 4-3 on penalties)

Semi-Final: Arsenal Ladies 7-0 Sunderland Ladies

Arsenal’s Top 2016 FA Cup Goalscorers

  1. Danielle Van De Donk (3)
  2. Dan Carter (3)
  3. Fara Williams (1)
  4. Jordan Nobbs (1)
  5. Kelly Smith (1)
  6. Natalia Pablos Sanchon (1)
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