FA WSL Continental Cup - Quarter-Final Preview: One second tier side to remain come Sunday

This weekend the cup is back with eight teams fighting it out to stay in the competition, including the likes of Man City and Arsenal.

FA WSL Continental Cup - Quarter-Final Preview: One second tier side to remain come Sunday
Jordan Nobbs scored twice against County in last year's final. | Photo: Arsenal LFC

The  FAWSL will be taking a break this weekend as the next round of the Continental Cup takes places, with eight teams remaining in the hunt for silverware.

Arsenal are searching for yet another win in the competition, whilst Manchester City will be hoping they can go all the way after their excellent form in the league this season. Both teams causes will be aided by the fact there is no Chelsea in the draw though, after they were knocked out by London Bees in the last 16.

A repeat of last year's final

The weekend's first clash takes place on Friday night with Arsenal playing Notts County at the Hive in what will be a repeat of last year's final; where the Gunners were the victors. They beat County 3-0 thanks to a brace from Jordan Nobbs and one from Chioma Ubogagu in a game where Laura Bassett was also sent off. 

This game will offer a very timely distraction for Arsenal who, after last week's disappointing defeat against Liverpool, will be hoping to bounce back in a cup that has been favourable to them down the years. However, for the Lady Pies this game may have come just at the right time. Following the Gunners' loss last Sunday, and they will be looking to take advantage of a potential loss of confidence.

In theory, it should be an Arsenal win, but if they struggle to break down their opponents and score goals as was the case last weekend, then it could be a tricky evening for Pedro Martinez Losa's players.

City hoping to maintain excellent form

Manchester City's form this season has been excellent, and it says something about the strength in depth they have that 17 year-old Georgia Stanway can come into the team and score goals for fun. After comfortably beating Sunderland last weekend and winning against Reading in midweek, City will be extremely high on confidence and a clash against Doncaster Belles, who sit bottom of WSL 1 with no points, should be relatively straight forward. 

Toni Duggan scored off the bench against Reading and it's probable that she'll come back into the starting XI for City's game with the Belles on Sunday. Aside from that, Nick Cushing will probably keep his side very similar to the ones he fielded in their last two outings. 

Doncaster can't be cast aside too quickly though, as we have seen a huge upset in this competition already this season with London Bees beating Chelsea on penalties in the last round. The fact Chelsea aren't in the competition anymore should give City confidence of winning the tournament for a second time though. 

Georgia Stanway has been in excellent form for Man City | Photo: Getty.
Georgia Stanway has been in brilliant form for Man City. | Photo: Getty.

Liverpool the dark horses?

Liverpool seem to be hitting form just at the right time, and are beginning to show the sort of displays that saw them win two WSL titles not long ago. Their performance against Arsenal on Sunday was superb, and despite appearing to be quite poor away from home this season, they showed excellent resolve to beat the Gunners. 

It's that resolve that could be very handy when they travel to Solihull on Sunday to face Birmingham City who sit just above them in the league. With that in mind, it has all the potential to be a cracker, with both teams very much equally matched on paper and searching for silverware as they sit off the pace in the WSL. 

Both sides are on very good unbeaten runs in all competitions, and it could therefore be a very tight and even game in the Midlands. Liverpool were the victors the last time the two sides met at the start of the season. A single goal from Shanice van de Sanden was enough for the Reds on that occasion despite being reduced to 10 players in the second half in a game where Birmingham also missed two penalties. 

If that's a sign of the drama to come this time out, then it could be a very good game on Sunday. 

The battle of WSL 2

It's not often teams from the lower league reach this stage of the competition but the new format this season has meant they've been able to do just that. Sheffield FC take on London Bees in an all WSL 2 clash with one of the teams on course for reaching a surprise semi-final against one of the WSL's bigger teams. 

As mentioned above, the Bees managed a superb penalty shoot-out win over Chelsea to reach the quarter-finals, whilst Sheffield defeated Bristol City 2-0 thanks to strikes from Jodie Michalska and Chelsea Flanagan in the second half. 

For both teams, this Continental Cup run has been a brilliant achievement, especially when you consider the fact that neither are on course for promotion at the end of the season. The magic of the cup is very much alive in this competition, and for one team the dream will still be on come full-time on Sunday afternoon. 

Sheffield currently sit a point behind the Bees in the league but they have three games in hand over their opponents and, after beating them 5-0 only last month, will surely be favourites to reach the semi-finals.