Women’s Cup final who’s who

With Chelsea Ladies in the spotlight at Wembley this Saturday, we have a player-by-player guide to the finalists provided by one of their loyal fans and bloggers, Hannah Roberts…

 

For the second year running, Chelsea Ladies have reached the FA Cup Final at Wembley. They go into the game against Arsenal as holders. But who are these Wembley heroes?

If the FA Cup Final is your first Chelsea Ladies game, be sure to get to know the squad before heading down to cheer on the girls!


Hedvig Lindahl

Squad Number: 1

Position: Goalkeeper

Since joining at the beginning of last season, Viggy has been immense for us. A seasoned international with vast experience, very little can shake her. Without meaning to jinx anything, she is a keeper that very, very rarely makes a mistake - it will take something special to beat her. A big vocal presence on the pitch too, she settles our backline excellently.

 

Hannah Blundell

Squad Number: 3

Position: Full-back

Still only 21, Blundles has already amassed over 50 appearances for the Blues since being promoted from the Centre of Excellence in 2013. Her ability to play on either side of defence is one of her greatest assets, although in this game you will most likely see her on the right, with England international Claire Rafferty the first-choice left-back. She is an attack-minded defender, who is excellent at bringing the ball out of defence, and driving down the wing to contribute further forward. Excellent decision-making. So mature for one so young, and already making strides in the senior England set up.

 

Millie Bright

Squad Number: 4

Position: Central defender / defensive midfielder

Usually "one to watch" tags are awarded to flashy forwards or creative mids, but if you've never seen Chelsea Ladies before, my number one player to watch is definitely Millie Bright. Solid as a brick wall and brave as a lion, very little gets past Mills. No-one in the league tackles half as hard. Prefers to play in the CDM role but is a very capable fill-in at centre-back, which she will be called upon to do in the Final. Her recent stint in defence has also showcased her unbelievable passing range; she is capable of putting the ball on the foot of her teammate 40 yards away, without a second thought. Surely on the brink of a senior England call up.

 Mille Bright in Women's Champions League action



Gilly Flaherty, vice-captain

Squad Number: 5

Position: Central defender

My player of the year last season, Gilly is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the league, and has been rewarded with a place in the England team as a result (although many would argue it has been long overdue). Fearless in the tackle, she rarely times her slides wrong. Somehow has seven league titles to her name, despite being only 24! She has an unbelievable will to win, and in any moments of insecurity, it will be her voice you can hear encouraging her teammates. Living proof that you don’t always need the armband to be a captain. Loves to get involved in any set piece, and chipped in with five goals last season as a result.

 

Niamh Fahey

Squad Number: 6

Position: Central defender

Returned from recent international duty with Ireland with an injury, and is unlikely to feature in the final. A big loss for the Blues, as she is one of the most underrated players in the league, and her partnership with Gilly in the centre of defence is second to none. Left rivals Arsenal for the Blues in 2015, winning the double in that first season.

 

Gemma Davison

Squad Number: 7

Position: Winger

Gemma is probably one of the most-loved players throughout the league, and not without good reason. Her silky skills can turn the best defenders inside out and make her mesmerising to watch. In my opinion though, her best quality is her versatility; she is always capable of beating the full-back, but she is more than happy to work her teammates into the game with quick passing and movement. She is also massively unselfish, leading the team in assists last year, with 10 to her name.

 Gemma Davison in last year's FA Cup final


Karen Carney

Squad Number: 8

Position: Attacking midfield

Just when you think your front line can’t get any better - along comes Karen Carney. A seasoned England international, Kaz brings that experience and calmness to the centre of the park, playing as the #10 or out wide. Chalked up two goals in her first two matches for the Blues, and is capable of scoring all types of goals - set pieces, long-range efforts, typical poachers' finishes.  It would be a big mistake for Arsenal's defence to ignore her, even for a moment.

 

Eni Aluko

Squad Number: 9

Position: Winger / striker

Another long-time England international, who just reached her 100th international caps, and is also one of the club's longest serving members. Has often featured as a centre-forward, but is better suited to a wide role. Her tenacity is her greatest feature - no defender is going to rob her of the ball easily. A willing and relentless runner, and an excellent finisher also.

 

Ji So-yun

Squad Number: 10

Position: Attacking midfielder / striker

Technically the best player in the team, and probably the league. Can pick out a pass that no-one else can see, and drifts past players as if they're not there. As her shirt number suggests, she most often plays as the 10, but has been deployed at centre forward on other occasions when necessary. The maverick player that you just don't sub off - eight of her ten goals last year were the match winners, including the lone goal in the FA Cup Final.

 

Claire Rafferty

Squad Number: 11

Position: Left back

Chelsea’s longest-serving player and a fan favourite, Raffs has been through it all at the club. She now has a year and a half of solid football under her belt after struggling with injuries, and is a big piece of the puzzle for Chelsea. Nothing flashy, but there are very few forwards in the WSL that can get one up on her.

 

Becky Spencer

Squad Number: 12

Position: Goalkeeper

Known throughout the league as one of the most solid and consistent keepers out there. After years as Birmingham's #1, she joined the Blues this winter to learn from Lindahl, and challenge for the starting spot in years to come. Proved her worth when called upon during the trip to Liverpool, coming off the bench to keep us in it after Lindahl was forced off with injury.

 

Fran Kirby

Squad Number: 14

Position: Attacking midfielder / striker

Fran's transfer from then second division side Reading in the summer of 2015 was, and is still, the most talked about transfer in WSL history. Used as the lone striker, her size makes her not your typical hold-up player, but she is a very willing runner and is a good outlet for the midfield. Loves to drop in and rotate with our other attacking players. Fox in the box. Was our second highest scorer in 2015, despite only joining midway through the season.

 Fran Kirby scored the goal that took the team to this year's final


Beth England

Squad Number: 15

Position: Midfielder

The promising youngster joined Chelsea from Doncaster Rovers Belles at the start of this season and is already making a big impression on the team. Beth has an incredible work ethic; this cannot be shown better than in the semi-final of this competition, when she was forced to play the half hour of extra time in the unfamiliar left-back position, after coming on for Claire Rafferty in the last effort to find an equaliser. She did so bravely and effectively. I’ve never seen her lose a header. Hopefully will feature in the final, either as a starter or an impact sub. One to be excited about for many years to come.

 

Ana Borges

Squad Number: 16

Position: Full-back / winger

The ultimate up-and-down player. Primarily a winger, but has been known to fill in as a full-back during an injury crisis, or in a game where we want to overload the other team's half. Gets up and down the wing with speed for 90 minutes, but is somehow always the player on the floor too, taking knocks from attackers taller and bigger than her! Will always, always get up and play on though. Massively underrated outside the club.

 

Katie Chapman, captain

Squad Number: 17

Position: Defensive midfielder

Captain, leader, legend. Since leaving Arsenal for the Blues in 2014, Chaps has been so important for us. With all of our attacking prowess, you need that defensive midfielder to guard the backline and allow the forwards to play, and Chaps is that. An absolute beast in the middle of the park, no-one gets past her easily. Mother of three, she is also mother to all of the team - if the ref wants a word with a Chelsea player, you know Chaps will be there backing them up.


Jenna Legg

Squad Number: 18

Position: Defender / midfielder

A youngster who signed her first professional contract this year after impressing for the reserves, and the first team on her few appearances. Massively versatile, Jenna is capable of playing anywhere across the back or middle of the park, although centre midfield is her preferred position. Unlikely to feature in the final, but unquestionably one to watch for the future.

 

Drew Spence

Squad Number: 24

Position: Midfielder

Closing in on her 100th appearance for Chelsea, despite being only 23, Drew is one of our longest serving players, and a local girl from the Centre of Excellence. Best known for her physical presence in the middle of the park, her ability as a playmaker is often overlooked. She has excelled playing further forward, best shown during the 6-0 win over Villa in the quarter-final, as she scored the opener with an unstoppable volley into the top of the net. One of those players that you don't always notice when she's there, but you definitely notice when she's not.

 Drew Spence volleys for goal


Jade Bailey

Squad Number: 25

Position: Defender / midfielder

Another former Red - made the move across last winter, in search of better development, after years of being a fringe player at Arsenal. Comfortable across the back or in a CDM role, she excels at the latter. Good on the ball and loves a crack from distance. Still only 20, but you'd never notice.

 

Laura Rafferty

Squad Number: 26

Position: Central defender / defensive midfielder

Another youngster, Mini Raff (not related to Claire Rafferty!) is already massively experienced as a full international with Northern Ireland. She has excelled when given the opportunity with the first team in the cup competitions over recent seasons, usually as a-centre back but she has often been played further forward with the Reserves side. Wears #26 in honour of her hero John Terry, and, in my opinion, is odds on to emulate his success in the years to come.

 

Alessia Russo

Squad Number: 28

Position: Attacking midfielder / striker

The youngster will miss out on the final as she is away with England's U17s at the European Championships, but is certainly a player to look out for at Wembley in the future. Full of potential, the staff at Chelsea certainly rate her; at the end of 2015, she was a U17 player, but was bumped up to the Development Squad in January, and was on the bench for the first team by April. The exciting attacker has already scored a handful of goals with the reserves side and is certainly one to watch for the future.

 

Fran Kitching

Squad Number: 40

Position: Goalkeeper

Having joined from Manchester United after outgrowing their Centre of Excellence, Fran has established herself as our #3. Don’t let her appearance fool you - although relatively short for a keeper, there is little that is not in her reach. An excellent shot-stopper, and a big vocal presence on the field. Yet to make her competitive debut, despite impressing in pre-season friendlies against PSG and Bristol City. She probably won’t be in the squad for the final, but will relish the opportunity to be around the team in this environment, as last year.

 

Predicted Lineup

(4-2-3-1, L-R) Lindahl; C. Rafferty, Flaherty, Bright, Blundell; Chapman, Spence; Aluko, Ji, Davison; Kirby.  Subs: Spencer, England, Borges, Bailey, Carney.

 

By Hannah Roberts from Chelsea Ladies Fans

 

Saturday's final kicks off at 2pm and is live on BBC1. Tickets are available from the FA.