‘It’s one game that can fulfil a dream’ – Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Brighton focus on Women’s FA Cup semis
Last season’s FA Cup semi-finals are finally here but not even the postponement of the competition because of the pandemic can keep old foes Manchester City and Chelsea apart, while Brighton take on 14-time winners Arsenal.
Holders City have won three of the past four finals and meet Chelsea at the semi-final stage of the competition for the fifth time in seven years.
Between City, Chelsea and the Gunners, the three clubs have won all of the past eight Women’s FA Cups.
Brighton are the only side left not to have won the trophy and Seagulls boss Hope Powell says the “pressure is definitely” on Arsenal to get past them – and on to the delayed final at Wembley on Sunday 5 December.
BBC Sport takes a look at the talking points ahead of Sunday’s semi-finals, both of which will be shown live on the BBC.
Man City v Chelsea games ‘are always epic’
Date: Sunday 31 October Time: 12:45 GMT Venue: Manchester City Academy Stadium Coverage: Live on BBC One, iPlayer and the BBC Sport website and app
No recent Women’s FA Cup semi-final line-up has felt complete without City facing the Blues.
The tie is one Chelsea boss Emma Hayes “knows the draw” will inevitably produce.
The 45-year-old says it is no longer a game that “surprises” her, but it is one she has come to “love”.
Asked if the regular meetings have helped drive Chelsea to improve, Hayes added: “There is no doubt about that, 100%.
“I always love these games against City, they are always epic.
“I know the two clubs are developing everything around the team to set them up to be top teams in Europe and I’ve always enjoyed the battles we have had with them.”
Hayes insists City’s difficult start to the WSL season and injury crisis, which sees captain Steph Houghton, reigning Fifa Best Women’s Player Lucy Bronze and goalkeepers Ellie Roebuck and Karen Bardsley among a host on players on the sidelines, makes them no less formidable.
“I don’t underestimate them,” she said.
City’s injury woes have been compounded further with back-up keeper Khiara Keating out with a fractured elbow, forcing City boss Gareth Taylor to call up a development player for the semi-final.
“It is a big challenge, we are fully aware of the situation, but what we have got is resolve” said Taylor, who hopes to have Vicky Losada and Hayley Raso back as they bid for a third final in three years.
“There have been a lot of positives outside of some negative results. This is a great opportunity for us to look at another competition, one that we have been successful in previously. We have worked really hard to get to this stage and we want to get to the final.”
‘Who says Arsenal have the right to win?’
Date: Sunday 31 October Time: 16:45 GMT Venue: Meadow Park, Borehamwood Coverage: Live on BBC Two, iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Sussex and the BBC Sport website and app
Women’s Super League leaders Arsenal are yet to lose a domestic match under head coach Jonas Eidevall since he took charge in the summer.
Now just 12 games into his tenure, the club’s Swedish boss is one win away from achieving “a goal and mission” to have the Gunners challenge for trophy at Wembley.
“I am new to English football but watched it [FA Cup] for many years overseas and I understand it has so much tradition and is filled with so much pride,” he said.
“When you get the chance to coach a club like Arsenal, you feel like you have a chance to coach them at Wembley and maybe we have a chance to win a trophy at Wembley.