5 reasons the FA Women's Cup final is a must-see
While the men's FA Cup final between Manchester United and Chelsea is eagerly anticipated, there's something equally as exciting cooking in the women’s kitchen. Arsenal and Chelsea prepare to clash for arguably the most prestigious club honour in English football.
Over 250 teams began the grinding road to Wembley. Arsenal and Chelsea survived to the last hurdle. With only 90 minutes of action remaining, one side will lift the FA Women's Cup, leaving the other to rue a lost opportunity.
Despite female football growing massively around the world, it’s still at infancy in England. Yet this season's FA Cup final is special.
Here are five reasons not to miss Arsenal versus Chelsea.
FA Cup is sexless
Whether men or women, the FA Cup offers drama, suspense and thrills in equal measure. There’s agony for beaten favourites and a sense of pride for victorious underdogs. As in the men’s fold, the FA Women’s Cup is the country’s oldest club competition, dating back to 1971.
Electrifying Wembley atmosphere
Wembley has added more colour and glamour to the English women's game. This will be the fourth successive year the famous edifice has hosted the FA Cup final. Unlike in the past, a large crowd is expected. Over 40,000 people. Four times as many as what cheer on the ladies in regular matches.
Clashes between Arsenal and Chelsea are always keenly contested irrespective of gender.
This season's FA Cup final features the same two sides as in 2016. Danielle Carter's blistering strike won Arsenal the trophy two years ago. The Gunners were the underdogs then and they are again on this occasion. Chelsea are chasing down a domestic double.
Battle of the tacticians
Emma Hayes is aiming to hurt her former employers once again. The Chelsea manager spent two years learning the ropes at Meadow Park. She is now tasked with inspiring the Blues after another disappointing continental showing.
Standing in Hayes' way is Aussie mercenary Joseph Montemurro. The Arsenal coach, beaten just once since arriving in December, has already added the WSL Continental Cup.
All eyes will be on Chelsea wonder girl Fran Kirby in the FA Cup final. She has been in exceptional form for the Blues, scoring 22 times this season. Her brace secured a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the last round.
It was no surprise, then, Kirby scooped Women's Player of the Year by both the PFA and Football Writers' Association. She was also named in the Team of the Year. The Chelsea forward would gladly trade personal honours for the FA Cup, though. She explained why, speaking to the Blues' official website.
Of course, it's nice to win these (individual) awards, but it's all about getting the team trophies – that's the only thing on my mind right now and everything else is a bonus. You could see how much it meant to us to reach another FA Cup final from our celebration after the City game. It was such a big game and we were so happy to win against such a great team.
The FA Women's cup final kicks off today at 5:30 pm BST.