SSE WOMEN’S FA CUP FINAL: Chelsea Ladies Preview

“We can’t allow ourselves to be overcome by the occasion and we know we are there to retain our trophy. That’s what we have to remember: it’s our cup.”– Gilly Flaherty

“We have such a good squad and have rotated so effectively this season; it has already had a massive impact in games and will continue to be important.”– Claire Rafferty

“We’ve played in this sort of occasion before and it’s going to be another big one. Obviously it’s different opposition and they’ve been in finals before. A lot of Arsenal’s players have got experience so there’s experience in both teams.”– Drew Spence

After last year’s double success in the FA WSL1 and the FA Women’s Cup, Chelsea ladies will be looking for a repeat performance this weekend at Wembley Stadium. Last season marked the first win for Chelsea ladies in both the league and cup and now their focus will be on trying to make sure it is not just a one off.

If their early league form is any indication, Chelsea are certainly a contender for the double once again. The blues are currently sitting second in the FA WSL1, having won all four of their fixtures, and scored fourteen goals in the process. While Manchester City will arguably be their main competition in the league this year, Chelsea were able to beat them 2-1 in the semi-final thanks to a very late Fran Kirby goal. Based on their performances thus far, the Blues will certainly be confident heading into their second consecutive FA Cup Final.

While on paper Chelsea would appear the more likely of the two sides to lift the trophy this weekend, we all know that anything can happen in the cup. Last year’s final between Chelsea and Notts County was a closely run affair with the Blues winning only by a single goal margin. Having conceded only a single goal during last year’s competition and two goals so far this season, it is clear that Chelsea’s defence is difficult to break down and will definitely be an asset going into the final.

Since last season’s victory, the quality of Emma Hayes’ squad has only improved. With high-calibre players like Hedvig Lindahl, Gilly Flaherty, Claire Rafferty, Ji So-Yun, Millie Bright, Katie Chapman, Gemma Davison, Eni Aluko and Fran Kirby all already on the books, Hayes’ additions have made Chelsea a difficult opposition to come up against. Karen Carney, Bethany England, Rebecca Spencer and Jade Bailey all joined during the last transfer window and have only improved an already strong squad. With so many players to choose from, Hayes will have plenty of options off the bench and subsequently Chelsea will be a threat throughout the game.

When it comes to the FA Cup competition, there is also plenty of experience amongst the Chelsea ranks. Their most prolific is Katie Chapman, who has won the cup nine times in her career, having lifted the trophy with Millwall Lionesses, Fulham, Charlton, Arsenal and most recently Chelsea.

The FA Cup was the first piece of silverware in Chelsea Ladies’ history and subsequently the club will be intent on retaining the trophy. Arsenal should not be underestimated, however, with their vast previous successes giving them the added motivation to secure their fourteenth FA Cup title. For whoever wins, beating their local London rivals will be the icing on top of the cake.

Chelsea’s Route To The Final

Fifth Round: Doncaster Rovers Belles 1-4 Chelsea Ladies

Quarter-Final: Chelsea Ladies 6-0 Aston Villa Ladies

Semi-Final: Chelsea Ladies 2-1 Manchester City Women

Chelsea’s Top 2016 FA Cup Goalscorers

  1. Ji So-Yun (5)
  2. Fran Kirby (2)
  3. Eni Aluko (2)
  4. Drew Spence (1)
  5. Karen Carney (1)
  6. Own Goal (1)
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