Arsenal-Chelsea FA Cup final ‘great showcase’ for women’s football

Arsenal and Chelsea will meet in a repeat of the 2016 final at Wembley
SSE Women’s FA Cup final 2018: Arsenal v Chelsea
Date: Saturday, 5 May Kick-off: 17:30 BST Venue: Wembley Coverage: Live on BBC One (from 17:10 BST) and on the BBC Sport website and app.

Saturday’s Women’s FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea will be a “great showcase” for the women’s game, says Gunners playmaker Kim Little.

Record 14-time winners Arsenal face the Blues – who are in their fourth final – at Wembley, with a new competition-record crowd of around 40,000 expected.

The match (17:30 BST kick-off) will be broadcast live on BBC One and online.

“I expect an epic final. It’s a derby. It’s Arsenal and Chelsea, a big game,” Chelsea boss Emma Hayes told BBC Sport.

Hayes’ side are second in Women’s Super League One – behind leaders Manchester City only on goal difference – while Arsenal are fourth, four points behind.

“Chelsea have had a great season but we believe on our day we can make it hard for any team,” Scotland international Little said.

“It’ll be a great showcase. As a player, these are the games you want to play in. We’re excited and grateful to be a part of it at Wembley.”

Arsenal and Chelsea drew their most recent league meeting, 1-1, in April

Chelsea, who are bidding to win the competition for a second time after their triumph in 2015, lost to Arsenal when the two sides met in the final in 2016.

The Blues are yet to concede in the competition this term, scoring 21 goals over their four ties, while Arsenal have netted 11 times and conceded only once, in their 2-1 semi-final win over Everton.

The Gunners also eliminated Yeovil Town, Millwall Lionesses and third-tier Charlton, while Chelsea overcame title rivals Manchester City in the last four, after wins over London Bees, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Liverpool.

“We didn’t produce a performance in 2016,” Hayes continued. “But we’ve become a club now accustomed to competing on all fronts, so as far as we’re concerned, it’s business as usual this week.

“If you had said to us at the beginning of the season that we’d make the Champions League semi-final, the FA Cup final and – four games away – be top of the league, I’d take that.”

Captain Chapman aiming for record 10th FA Cup

Katie Chapman won her first Women’s FA Cup with Millwall Lionesses, aged 14, in 1997

Chelsea skipper and former Arsenal midfielder Katie Chapman has already won the cup nine times in her career. The England international is now bidding for a record 10th success.

“That in itself is unbelievable, to talk about winning nine FA Cups, and she has started in every one of those final as well,” Hayes added.

“She’s been instrumental in the progression of the club over the past five years, with her collective wisdom and experience, her know-how on the biggest stage.

“But we have several leaders in this team now, who importantly bring the big-game mentality. It’s different to what the team looked like back in 2016.

“So I’m sure it’ll be an honour for Katie to lead out the side but I’m sure she’d be the first to say that it is a privilege to play in this team because of the wonderful characters and leaders that we have.”

‘Wembley is my best memory in football’

Kim Little (right) was part of the Great Britain squad that beat Brazil in front of 70,584 at the 2012 Olympics

The Women’s FA Cup final is being played at the national stadium for the fourth time.

For Arsenal and 27-year-old Little, Saturday’s game will be her first at Wembley since the 2012 Olympic Games, when she helped Great Britain to victory over Brazil.

“That [2012] was probably my best memory of football, the atmosphere we had there at the home Olympics,” Little said.

“Winning against Brazil, that feeling, it is something I still remember, especially the moments after the game with the crowd.

“Although we won’t have quite as many people as we did at that game, I’m sure it’ll still be a special occasion on Saturday, and to hopefully get a second trophy this season would be great.”

More than 40,000 tickets have been sold ahead of the match, while organisers hope that figure may yet still rise further before kick-off.

A win for Arsenal would see them claim a second domestic trophy of the season, having already lifted the Continental Tyres Cup [League Cup] with victory over Manchester City in March.

Chelsea still have plans for a league and cup double, despite their European campaign ending at the semi-final stage on Sunday, as they were eliminated by German side Wolfsburg to end their bid for a treble.

Women’s FA Cup Highlights: Arsenal beat Everton to book place in FA Cup final

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