Following the four quarter-finals the draw, for the Continetal Tyres Cup semi-finals took place at Crosspool Juniors school in South Yorkshire. The draw saw the London Bees, the only WSL 2 team left standing drawn at home to two-time finalists Birmingham City. With the second semi-final having already picked itself, all that was left was for the balls to be drawn and the home team decided. With Manchester City out of the bag first, it confirmed that the Academy Stadium will host a quarter, semi and grand final in this year’s league cup and Arsenal will have to travel.
London Bees vs Birmingham City
The London Bees, who are very much in unknown territory, will be happy to have been drawn at home although have previously said that it didn’t matter who they’d face and would give it their all. Birmingham likewise will be happy to have avoided Arsenal, who they lost two finals and a semi-final to as well as Manchester City, the Citizens one of the two teams to have beaten them in the league this year. The Blues will go in clear favourites but weary of a Bees side who beat Chelsea on penalties in the round of 16.
Manchester City vs Arsenal
From virtual strangers in the first semi to two teams well versed with each other, not just in this competition.
The Gunners have featured in every final to date, winning four of the five, their only loss coming at the hands of the Citizens in 2014. Arsenal had their revenge over City the following year when they knocked the high-flying Sky Blues out of the competition at the quarter final stage (before going on to regain the title). The league record of the pair doesn’t suggest a particular dominance with City winning three and Arsenal two of their five WSL meetings in the last three years.
For more intrigue the tie is scheduled to take place one week before City travel to Borehamwood to play Arsenal in their second league meeting of the year – their first resulting in a 2-0 win to the Citizens. With Arsenal all but out of the race for European qualification, the Gunners will look to the Conti Cup – a cup that very much lives in London – as a golden opportunity to bag more silverware this year (having already won the FA Cup for a record 14 time). As City bid for their first ever WSL title, all eyes will be on their league matches as well as their first games in the UWCL later in the year, with a paper-thin squad Cushing will have to be careful about how he sets up against the Gunners. If he reveals too much of his hand, Arsenal could be given an advantage in what could be a crucial visit to Meadow Park the following week.
Arsenal are a team that can never be written off in their pursuit of silverware, no matter how strong or weak their league position is, despite City’s home advantage the tie is wide open. The only certainty is there will be one previous winner in the final (scheduled for 2 October at City’s Academy Stadium).
Both semi-finals are due to take place over the weekend of 3/4 September.