Chelsea and Manchester City have run the Women’s FA Cup since 2016, with the two sharing the hardware back and forth since 2014-15. Arsenal is the only other team to lift the trophy in between, winning in 2015-16.
This year, the two have even more to play for in the FA Cup. Chelsea won a third consecutive Barclay’s FA Women’s Super League title, but Manchester City managed a Continental League Cup final win over the Blues back in March.
Despite the fact the last five cups have been won by either team, this year is the first time the two will meet in the event. The final has now sold more than 50,000 tickets and looks to break the record for a Women’s FA Cup final of 45,423 when Chelsea beat Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in 2018.
With two of the most dominant teams in the women’s game meeting in the final, there is much more than a hoisted trophy on the line.
What will it take for Chelsea to do the double?
Under the brilliance of manager Emma Hayes, Chelsea claimed the Women’s Super League title for a third consecutive season. The Blues look to defend their Women’s FA Cup title as well which would give them five of six domestic trophies this season.
However, the last time Manchester City and Chelsea met in a Cup final – the Continental League Cup – City had the last laugh. The Citizens won 3-1 and have experience on the big stage as they aim to take home their fourth FA Cup.
Playing in the same competition on the same weekend as Thomas Tuchel’s men’s side, Hayes’ Chelsea are on an 11-game win streak. The London club won 18 of 22 games this season including two wins over City where Chelsea did not concede a goal.
For Chelsea to continue their dominance the goal is simple: Keep playing their brick wall defence. The Blues can count on some of the best defenders in the women’s game with Erin Cuthbert in the middle and Millie Bright will be at centre back.
Not to mention their blazing offence, led by FWA Women’s Player of the Year Sam Kerr who leads the league in scoring with 20 goals. Chelsea will look to play the same style that saw them concede just one goal while scoring 17 en route to the FA Cup final including blanking second-place Arsenal in the semi-final.
Can Manchester City expose Chelsea’s weaknesses once again?
Garth Taylor’s City have already beaten Chelsea once this season for silverware, and since their last defeat to the Blues in February, City has won 13 straight games including the League Cup win.
Despite being plagued with injuries and a rocky start to their season, City still managed to claim a UEFA Women’s Champions League spot finishing third in league play above rivals Manchester United.
The Citizens never lost an FA Cup Final. City won three of the last five FA Cups and will hold more than Chelsea if they can win a fourth.
Canadian Janine Beckie was part of the 2020 squad the last lifted the FA Cup for City, netting a goal against Everton to help her club secure victory.
Outscoring their opponents 20-2 in the last four FA Cup rounds, City will be reliant on Lauren Hemp, Georgia Stanway and Bunny Shaw to continue to produce and lead their team to victory especially against a strong Chelsea defence.
The rivalry by numbers
While Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal always seem to be in the middle of Chelsea and Manchester City’s greatness, it can never stop either team from being at the top. But the North London buffer is why it has taken so long for the two teams to meet in the final.
Chelsea is a five-time FA Women’s Super League winner, three-time FA Cup winner, two-time League Cup winner and won the FA Community Shield last season. Chelsea also were the runners-up in the UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2020-2021, losing in the final to Barcelona.
As for City, 2016 is their only league title win, but the club have won the FA Cup three times, the League Cup four times and lost their only Community Shield appearance to Chelsea.
The two clubs have both struggled to find success against the rest of Europe, but domestically the two teams have run the table when it comes to all English competitions. They combined for six of the last seven league titles on top of controlling the FA Cup.
Canadian to keep an eye out for
With Beckie’s departure to join fellow Canadian Christine Sinclair with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, Jessie Fleming is the lone Canadian who will take the pitch in midfield for Chelsea.
Fleming joined the most successful club in the FA Women’s Super League in 2020. She scored six goals and added four assists in 21 appearances this season playing in all but one game.
The 24-year-old London, Ont., native is now a two-time league champion with Chelsea and looks to win a second FA Cup with the club after lifting the trophy with the club after the 2020-2021 season.