From what seemed like a nuisance of a competition for managers before the turn of the year has evolved into a must-win trophy. The FA WSL Cup, also known as the Continental Cup, has reached its final stage leaving London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea 90 minutes away from winning it all.
In October 2019, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes called for the Continental League Cup to be discarded, and instead, add more Women's Super League matches.
"Get rid of the Continental Cup," Hayes said prior to Chelsea's game at Crystal Palace on October 18, 2019. "Get rid of it, make more league fixtures. How are we going to get continuity? If you want the Continental Cup, play it for Championship [sides]. Sell the Women's Super League; why are we diluting our product? This competition, that competition. Boom, one league, it's not difficult."
Well, Hayes' thoughts about the competition seem to have changed a bit now that her team is in the final and facing the team that has won it the most, Arsenal.
"It's the first one of the domestic campaign and it would be nice to go into the international break with our first Conti Cup title, our first trophy of the season. I know for our environment that this is one we really want to win."
Arsenal has reached seven of the last eight Conti Cup finals and won five. This time around, the final will be played at City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest, on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Arsenal vs Chelsea: road to the final
It is safe to say that Arsenal has been the most dominant team in this competition. Winning six of its seven matches, the Gunners have scored 28 goals and allowed one goal. Their only loss came against Brighton and Hove Albion in the form of a penalty shootout.
Chelsea, on the other hand, has also been a dominant force winning six of its seven matches allowing four goals and scoring 17 in the process. Like the North London side, the Blues suffered their only loss in penalties against Reading.
As for top scorers for the two teams, Chelsea's Beth England and Arsenal's Beth Mead have each scored five goals.
Mead, who is not only the top scorer for Arsenal in the competition, but also has the most assists with 6, will be watching the game from the sidelines after suffering a knee injury on February 20. The forward was also omitted from the SheBelieves Cup roster as a result of her injured MCL. In addition to this injury woe, Kim Little is also unavailable.
Chelsea seems to be at the other end of the spectrum in terms of injuries. Hayes is looking forward to playing the final with all its pieces.
"We've got a great freshness on the bench and that freshness will add more and more so whether I consider a fresh approach for Saturday, I'll contemplate that later in the week but I certainly have the options to change things up," Hayes said
Arsenal vs Chelsea: head-to-head
Lately, Chelsea has been the team to dominate this London rivalry winning. Arsenal has only lost four league matches since the beginning of 2019 and Chelsea is responsible for three.
The last time the Gunners defeated Chelsea was in a visit to Kingsmeadow in 2018, 5-0. But those are different times. The Blues won the following four matches by a total score of 11-3.
Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro emphasized how important it is to win this final, which could be his third trophy as head coach.
"There's always a motivation, especially in these big games," Montemurro said. "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.
Arsenal vs Chelsea: players to watch
Sam Kerr – Chelsea
Kerr made it clear that she came to Chelsea to win trophies. Well, Chelsea has a clear opportunity at claiming silverware and the Australian forward can be key in doing so. She has scored one goal and assisted once in four starts and six total matches. This is a great opportunity for her to have a big impact on the team.
Danielle van de Donk – Arsenal
Vivianne Miedema is clearly the most important player in Arsenal, but she needs service for her to be lethal. Van de Donk and Miedema share that Dutch link and have relied on one another to produce goals for the Gunners along the season. Arsenal's midfield performance will ultimately dictate the outcome of the game and van de Donk will need to take charge.
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Broadcast information
Arsenal vs Chelsea FC Broadcast Information
Stadium: Meadow Park (Borehamwood, Hertfordshire)