Women’s Super League champions Chelsea will take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final this weekend with a record crowd set to attend Wembley.
Holders Chelsea will be looking for a League and Cup double, but will face an in-form City side, who defeated them 3-1 in the Continental League Cup final in March.
Chelsea came from behind, beating Manchester United 4-2 on Sunday to claim a third consecutive league title. City, meanwhile, finished third after recovering from a slow start to the season.
Gareth Taylor’s side suffered several injuries to key players but managed to turn things around at the start of the year and finish in last place in the Champions League.
Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby stole the show as Emma Hayes’ Blues defeated Arsenal 3-0 to win last season’s postponed final in December. But with Kirby going to miss this game due to a fatigue issue, Chelsea are counting on their Player of the Season Kerr to bring the magic once again.
Sportsmail takes a look at the key players and battles, with insight from Sky Sports pundit and English legend Karen Carney, ahead of Sunday’s showdown.
Chelsea hopes to achieve league and cup doubles after already winning the Super League
Manchester City meanwhile defeated Chelsea in the Continental League Cup final in March
Karen Carney has given her verdict on where the Women’s FA Cup is headed on Sunday
Both teams are coming to Sunday’s final in fantastic form, but it is City who have a slight advantage.
Gareth Taylor’s team has won 13 games in a row in all competitions, compared to 11.
City have scored 46 goals in their last 13 games and conceded just five, while Chelsea conceded 47 goals but conceded eight.
City’s latest defeat came at the hands of Chelsea, with Hayes’ side taking a narrow 1-0 league win in February, while the Blues’ most recent defeat was the Conti Cup final.
Gareth Taylor’s side won 13 on the bounce and scored 46 goals in their last 13 matches
“City has really gotten into shape,” Carney told Sportsmail. “They score high, everyone participates and they don’t give in much.”
Carney watched as Chelsea came from behind to beat United last weekend and noted the calm on the bench despite a difficult first half. “They weren’t themselves, they were nervous, they were doing unusual things. It was the worst I’ve seen Chelsea in a long time.
“But what they have is they can turn it around. They can turn it around and get a hold of it. Hayes made tactical changes and they came back into play.”
Chelsea will look for top scorer Sam Kerr to find the net, while City hope Lauren Hemp can cause trouble for the Blues defence.
Guro Reiten has also been in good form for Chelsea this season and Pernille Harder is also hoping to make a mark after missing out on a spot in the December final.
Caroline Weir, who scored twice for City in March’s League Cup final, could also be key for Taylor’s side.
Sam Kerr has had a great season and was voted FWA’s Footballer of the Year
“It’s about whether Chelsea can keep Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly quiet,” said Carney. “For City, it’s about whether they can prevent Sam Kerr from falling behind. It’s a big field and we saw what she could do in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.”
Erin Cuthbert is another key player for Chelsea. The Scottish midfielder played in a variety of positions and was a big miss when injury forced her to sit out the Conti Cup final.
“Emma Hayes said on Sunday she was their best player,” Carney said. “The game before she had to come up at half-time and she made a huge difference. She gives you that bit of spice.’
Carney believes Chelsea should keep Lauren Hemp (pictured) and Chloe Kelly quiet
Lauren Hemp v Jess Carter
Hemp has scored 10 goals and six assists in the WSL and is one of the most exciting players in the England squad. However, Chelsea’s Jess Carter is one of the best 1v1 defenders in the league and will try to stop the fast winger in her tracks.
Carney: “Hemp is currently in shape for goal and productive. She gives you momentum, she gets the crowd going because she’s exciting. Jess Carter, I would expect her to go up against her and try to counter that threat.”
Jess Carter (right) is one of the best 1 on 1 defenders in the Women’s Super League
Sam Kerr vs Alex Greenwood
Kerr showed she’s a player for the big occasion with her mesmerizing performance in December’s cup final against Arsenal and it will be the job of City defender Alex Greenwood to try and keep her quiet this time around.
Greenwood was a constant on the City backline through a season of injury. The England defender switched from left-back to centre-back midway through last season and has reaped the rewards, but she will face an uphill task against one of the world’s best forwards. City will be sure of it though, given that they have nine clean sheets in their last 13 games.
“In the big games you need that bit of star quality and boy, we’ve seen it with Sam Kerr [last weekend]Carney says.
“If you’re a Manchester City defender it’s your job to keep Sam quiet.”
Alex Greenwood will try to keep Kerr quiet in Sunday’s FA Cup final
Taylor and Hayes have faced each other eight times in the past two years, with the Chelsea boss winning six of those matches. The Conti Cup final was the first time Taylor defeated Hayes in all competitions.
The former Wales striker won the FA Cup with City in December 2020, the postponed final of the 2019-2020 season. Hayes has won this match three times.
Taylor was under pressure at the start of the season when City languished near the bottom of the rankings and the coach removed himself from social media amid the criticism.
Emma Hayes has had the better of Gareth Taylor’s side in six of their eight encounters
But his side has not looked back since winning the League Cup. Carney says: “I was asked to do some analysis on City earlier this season and I sat down and thought ‘they are actually playing well.’
“It was just that they played people in the wrong positions because they injured 10 players.
“If it had happened to any other team, they would have had the same problems with the results. When the players returned, the results spoke for themselves. If they had kept everyone fit and healthy, they would have been in the title race last weekend too.”
The Conti Cup final was Taylor’s first time beating Hayes in all competitions
CARNEY’S VERDICT: Manchester City win
Chelsea have resilience and they have the know-how, so you can never rule them out, but in my head I would see City as more favorable.
“On this pitch I think they will hold the ball a little better. Chelsea want to win for people who leave like Ji [So-Yun]Jonna [Anderson] and Drew [Spence], but I just feel like City have really gotten into shape. They score high, everyone participates and they don’t give in much.
‘My feeling just says City. I thought their performance against Chelsea in the League Cup final was excellent and I think if they can reach that level it will cause problems for Chelsea.”
Do not miss it! Watch Chelsea vs Manchester City in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup final this Sunday. Visit thefa.com/ticketing , tickets are available now.