Continental Cup Final Preview: Chelsea Women vs Arsenal Women

Chelsea could become just the third side after Arsenal and Manchester City to win the Continental Cup. The Gunners have won five of the eight iterations of the tournament with Man City winning the other three.

Arsenal last won the competition in 2018 with Vivianne Miedema scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Man City.

Chelsea have been in fine form all season and remain undefeated in all competitions so far this campaign. Emma Hayes' side even have two wins over Arsenal under their belts this term. 

That includes a fantastic result at Meadow Park, where Chelsea dispatched of Arsenal with ease. The Blues dismantled a changed Arsenal team putting four goals past Manuela Zinsberger

Beth England, Guro Reiten, Sam Kerr and Sophie Ingle scored goals for Chelsea that day, putting Arsenal well and truly to the sword.

This included Australian Sam Kerr's first goal in a Chelsea jersey. English winger Beth Mead pulled one back for the Gunners late on but by that point there was nothing left for them in the game. 

The last time the two sides faced off in cup competition was in February of last year. Chelsea saw off Arsenal yet again with a 3-0 victory in the FA Women's Cup. 

Forward Beth England struck a brace that day with Swede Jonna Andersson scoring the third. 

Team News

Arsenal's already thin squad will be even thinner on Saturday. It was confirmed that Mead will be missing for a long stretch thanks to ligament damage. 

Furthermore, Lia Walti has injured her hamstring and will not be available for selection by Joe Montemurro

Gunners captain Kim Little will also be absent after undergoing foot surgery earlier this month. 

Caitlin Foord may make just her second Arsenal appearance, the Australian scored on her debut against Lewes in the FA Women's Cup last weekend. 

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes will have a near fully fit squad to choose from. There have been some doubts as to how fit both Kerr and Ji So-yun are following their recent international escapades. Both started against Manchester City last Sunday and are both in contention again this weekend. 

The route to the final

Arsenal

The Gunners scored 25 goals in their five group B games including putting nine past London Bees and seven past Bristol City.

They did however lose on penalties to Brighton after a 0-0 draw.

In the quarter finals they beat fellow FA WSL side Reading 1-0 before beating league leaders Man City 2--1 in last month's semi-finals.

Gemma Bonner's goal for City is the only one Arsenal have conceded in the competition.

Chelsea

Chelsea didn't put big scorelines past any teams although they did have to beat Spurs, Lewes, West Ham and Crystal Palace in the group stage before facing a tough Aston Villa team in the quarter-finals. 

The FA Women's Championship were more than competitive against the Blues and gave a good account for themselves despite losing 3-1. 

Chelsea then faced Manchester United in the semi-final, the Blues vanquishing the Red Devils 1-0. Casey Stoney's United side fell at the semi-final stage for the second time in as many seasons. 

Predicted Lineups

Arsenal (18) have played the joint-fewest different players in the league, so in theory, trying to decipher how they are going to lineup against Chelsea should be easy. 

Joe Montemurro has a specific core to his team that he does not like to change much at all. His team retains its identity that way and the consistency provides the Gunners with the base of being one of the best teams in the world. 

It's just appropriate that they are also coming up against another of the world's best in the shape of Chelsea, who, as a team, have an outrageous amount of depth. 

Arsenal: Manuela Zinsberger; Leonie Maier, Leah Williamson, Viktoria Schnaderbeck, Katie McCabe; Jill Roord, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle van de Donk; Lisa Evans, Vivianne Miedema, Caitlin Foord. 

Chelsea: Ann-Katrin Berger; Jonna Andersson, Millie Bright, Magdalena Eriksson, Maren Mjelde; Drew Spence, Sophie Ingle, Guro Reiten, Ji So-yun; Sam Kerr, Beth England. 

Key Clashes

Beth England vs Leah Williamson

In nine consecutive games in the Women's Super League, Beth England has scored. No player has scored in that many consecutive games in the WSL.

Leah Williamson is one of the brightest young centre-halves in world football and this is the recipe for one of the most compelling on-field battles of the season. 

England possesses bags of pace while Leah has an extremely high defensive IQ. It was the players behind England that carved the Arsenal defence up last time out and it took a world-class finish for her to get her goal. 

Keep your eyes on this one. 

Guro Reiten and Ji So-yun vs Danielle van de Donk and Jordan Nobbs

It's the battle of the creative midfielders on both sides. The amount of opportunities that these two sets of players can create for their respective forwards could dictate the result of the game. 

Vivianne Miedema, Beth England and Sam Kerr will all be ready to pounce but whichever team can control the midfield will be in the best stead to take the game by the horns. 

The reason Chelsea couldn't beat City last weekend was that there was no control in the middle of the park. That's something that doesn't often happen to this Chelsea side but if Arsenal can somehow replicate that kind of chaos, they will be in a better place for it.

What the managers say

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro is ready for a chance of retribution after Chelsea defeated the Gunners in both games so far this season.

“There’s always a motivation, especially in these big games,” Montemurro said.

“Obviously the other team we’re playing against have unfortunately beaten us twice this year, so it’s a great opportunity to right the wrongs. 

“We love our cup finals. It’s what we play for and it’s what we enjoy in the season.

"It’s what being a professional footballer and being in the professional game is all about.

"It’s another opportunity to showcase two fantastic teams and another opportunity to play some great football on a great stage.”

Chelsea boss Emma Hayes is ready to break the tradition of Arsenal dominating this competition.

"This is Arsenal’s trophy," she said.

"It’s the one they’ve won the most in recent years, the one they’ve dominated, the one they won’t let go of easily so I expect a fight.

"I think they will come out all guns blazing and be aggressive. They’ll look to play to their strengths, to play around us, and when they’re at their best they’ve shown they’re one of the top teams in Europe.

"I’m expecting to see a strong performance from Arsenal so we have to be ready for that."

Hayes also reflected on what it took to get to this stage:

"Getting to this final has been our challenge because we know you can’t win something you’re not in.

"We haven’t been able to make it here before so that jump at Man United [in the semi-final] was so important psychologically for us as a team, to get to a point where you can compete for the trophy."

The Continental Tyres Cup Final kicks-off at 17:30 (GMT) on Saturday, February 29. The game will be broadcast on BT Sport 1. 

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