Women’s FA Cup: Manchester City relish the chance of a final at Wembley | Women’s England Cup
TThe last vestige of the list of domestic matches disrupted by the pandemic is approaching with the semi-finals of the FA Cup 2020-21 which will take place on Sunday. And, with the 50th final of the competition set to take place on December 5, 100 years to the day since the Football Association effectively banned women’s football by banning matches from being played on FA-affiliated grounds, it There is a poignant competition to this season and the Wembley Finals.
This season’s tournament highlight will be restored to its traditional May date in the calendar, meaning there will be four domestic titles and the Champions League to go in the 2021-22 season. Winning the FA Cup, for each of the last four remaining teams, would not only be a trophy in the cabinet, but also a marker in the development of each team in different ways.
For three teams, the position is familiar. Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City have passed the trophy between them over the past eight seasons, and defending champions City have won three of the previous four finals. The chances of the cup being retained by Gareth Taylor’s side appear slim, however. City face Chelsea in the last four for the fifth time in seven years, but are struggling with a staggering injury list.
A few months after the start of Taylor’s debut season last year, City won the FA Cup. Coming back to Wembley, in front of the supporters, with their players standing with their backs to the wall, would mark a huge turning point in the fortunes of the besieged club.
But if Taylor feels the pressure he doesn’t show it and ahead of their Women’s Super League game against Arsenal he insisted he’s enjoying the tough times. “Crazily, I actually enjoy that feeling – it’s not a nice feeling, don’t get me wrong, but I do have that kind of siege mentality,” he said.
City failed that test, beaten 5-0 by the Gunners, and they have collected just four points in five league games. A win over Chelsea to reach a final at Wembley would be a statement, but Taylor said he’s not looking for a declared win: “We just need to win, it’s that simple. We understand where we are with injuries. We have players who are unavailable for some crazy reasons, but we make the most of it and it’s all about winning.
Chelsea regained their rhythm after a 3-2 first day loss to Arsenal in the Emirates. However, manager Emma Hayes does not envision any complacency given City’s struggles. “When it comes to a semi-final, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, he’s a leveler because every player, no matter what club he plays for, knows he’s one step away. ‘a final,’ she said.
“This is a huge opportunity and one that anything can happen. It’s so different from a championship game, why? I do not know. There’s usually a little more drama, a little more nervous energy in teams, but that’s because there’s something at stake.
Arsenal or Brighton face off in the late kick-off and 14-time record-winning Arsenal reaching the final and lifting the trophy would show that the team’s progress under new manager Jonas Eidevall is not wavering. The decision, negotiated with Dutch coach Mark Parsons, to leave striker Vivianne Miedema at rest against Belarus in the international break and Brighton in the FA Cup semi-finals, is a testament to the depth of the team and the long-term goals of Eidevall.
Taking off against Brighton would make the Gunners’ national campaign look invincible and in former striker Danielle Carter they would face a familiar opponent, the one who scored the FA Cup-winning goal in the 2016 final. Brighton manager Hope Powell a loss to Arsenal and a trophy would be a fair reward after three years of progress at the South Coast club. Brighton sits fifth in the league and is arguably the dark horse in the race to be the best of the rest.
“We have more to gain than we have to lose and that takes the pressure off and I would say it puts a bit on Arsenal,” said Powell. “The pressure is on Arsenal, we expect them to win. We go there to take advantage and we try to win, why not?