Ladies football

Chelsea Ladies need a lift before Wembley

fa-womens-cupThe first FA Women’s Cup Final to be held at Wembley takes place next weekend and a big crowd can be expected after the success of England in the recent World Cup.

Wembley expects around 25,000-30,000 for the final between Chelsea Ladies and Notts County Ladies. With interest in the women’s game rising since the Lionesses returned from Canada, the gate could get even higher.

Chelsea go into the final a little bit dented by two successive Super League defeats. Sunderland hit them for four a week ago and this weekend, Manchester City came away from Staines with a 2-1 win. Despite losing their home record, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes felt the Blues were the better side against City, who have now thrown their hat in the ring for the title race. Then winning goal was an own goal by Chelsea’s Claire Rafferty.

Chelsea started the season like an express train, but those defeats have posed questions about their championship credentials. They are desperate to win their first prize, so the FA Cup final gives them a great opportunity to get back on track.

For City, it was revenge for the FA Cup semi-final they lost at the hands of Chelsea back in May. Chelsea won that 1-0, thanks to a Drew Spence goal. Chelsea have also beaten Arsenal (2-1) and Watford (6-0) on the way to Wembley.

While Chelsea are stuttering in the Super League, Sunderland have taken the initiative after three consecutive wins, the last two seeing the North-East side scoring four goals. Beth Mead, who grabbed a hat-trick against Chelsea, netted two more this weekend as Sunderland beat Bristol Academy 4-1. Arsenal are now in second place after beating Notts County 2-1 at Boreham Wood, putting Chelsea into third place.

That means both FA Cup finalists have won one game apiece in their three league fixtures since the programme resumed after the World Cup.

The two teams have met in the league this season, with Chelsea winning 2-1 at Meadow Lane against the “Lady Pies” on the opening day of the campaign. Notts County have been goal-happy in the FA Cup, scoring 12 in their three ties, including a 5-1 win against Aston Villa.

Both clubs will be keen to put the memory of a semi-final defeat last season out of their system. Chelsea start as favourites, but those two Super League defeats may have knocked their confidence. Game of the People will be at Wembley to report on this historic game.

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