WSL Cup semi-final - Manchester City vs Arsenal Preview: Can the Gunners continue their cup success?
Image credit: VAVEL - Chloe Leadbeater

WSL Cup semi-final - Manchester City vs Arsenal Preview: Can the Gunners continue their cup success?

The champions-elect against the FA Cup winners. Who'll come out on top on Sunday?

Jonathan Walsh

England's most successful team meets the rising power of the WSL on Sunday, in what is sure to be a fantastic WSL Cup semi-final tie.

Arsenal and Manchester City are bidding for victory as aim for different sorts of doubles; a win would add to the history the pair are aiming to add to and create, respectively.

The Gunners could lift both cups this season, and the Citizens are close to capturing league and cup glory. Unfortunately, one of those dreams will end on Sunday evening.

With Arsenal having never failed to make the final of this competition - as well as their FA Women's Cup success to boot - even City's might could be tested to breaking point.

City strollers

Nick Cushing's side have been utterly dominant in the WSL 1 this year. They still have to play Chelsea again and the Blues do have a game in hand - and the mental advantage of pipping them in the FA Cup semi-final - but even then City will still have a one point advantage. With how they've played this season, it's hard to see that slipping.

Of course, anything is possible in football and that's perhaps why there are people who fancy Arsenal to win tomorrow. After all, the Gunners triumphed over the Citizens last season at the same stage of competition. City did win the last meeting between the two in the league, though that was back in March; neither result should matter come Sunday.

Despite history favouring Arsenal, it's incredibly hard to look past Manchester City. Denied at the death in the other cup and marching towards a league triumph for the first time, there's very little going against them. Abbie McManus' injury is a worry, naturally, but having Jennifer Beattie fill in beside Steph Houghton is never a bad thing.

Strong in defence, an embarrassment of riches in midfield and in attack. Cushing's squad may be thing, but when Toni Duggan and Kosovare Asllani can be replaced by Georgia Stanway and Nikita Parris, you know you're onto a winner. That's without mentioning Jane Ross, Jill Scott and Isobel Christiansen; quite the squad indeed.

Cups keep Arsenal in the hunt for silverware

Despite Chelsea and City coming onto the scene to knock Arsenal off their perch in the league, the cup competitions have seen the North London side stay on top of the game. The one-on-one nature of the games seems to bring a different mentality to Pedro Martinez Losa's side and, as they have proven, can beat anyone on their day.

Whether sustaining that over a season seems to be the problem is another thing, but the cup is the focus of the weekend and that should see Arsenal at their best. The league has been by no means poor, but two nil-nils against Birmingham and a defeat to Liverpool hasn't helped their cause to get back in with the current top two.

One thing that will have pleased the Gunners is Asisat Oshoala's first goal for five months in the league, as she helped them edge past Notts County. It was anything but plain sailing against the Lady Pies in the quarter-final, though, as it took two goals in the last 10 minutes to put Arsenal through at the Meadow Lane outfit's expense.

Vicky Losada and Fara Williams' brace secured a win in the opening round, and they will look to the likes of Williams and Jordan Nobbs to try and get the better of City's midfield and cut the supply to their fearsome front three. In turn, they'll need to get the ball to Oshoala, Dan Carter and Danielle van de Donk to trouble the City defence.

Predicted line-ups

Manchester City Women: (4-3-3) Bardsley; Bronze, Houghton, Beattie, Campbell; Scott, Walsh, Christiansen; Duggan, Ross, Asllani.

Arsenal Ladies: (4-3-3) van Veenendaal; Scott, Henning, Stoney, Mitchell; Smith, Williams, Nobbs; van de Donk, Carter, Oshoala.