Ladies preview: Sunday semi-final to savour

The top two in the WSL have two meetings to come in that competition but today in Kingston, they lock horns for a place in a cup final…

Chelsea Ladies versus Manchester City Women in a semi-final of the Continental Tyres Cup kicks off at 2pm. The game is not live on television but there will be updates during the game on our @ChelseaLFC Twitter.

 

THE FORM

Chelsea Ladies go into this match on the back of a thrilling win over Arsenal in our first game of 2018. In an end-to-end match at Kingsmeadow in front of over 2,500 supporters, the Blues twice took the lead through Maren Mjelde and Ji So-Yun, only for the Gunners to respond on both occasions. However, debutant Jonna Andersson forced a late own-goal from Arsenal keeper Sari Van Veenendaal to ensure we secured a win in our first WSL1 match in almost two months.

We remain two points behind Manchester City at the top of the standings after they recorded an impressive victory of their own. Nick Cushing's side were twice pegged back by Reading at Adams Park before running out 5-2 winners thanks to a second-half brace by Jill Scott.

 

ROUTE TO THE LAST FOUR

The Blues beat Liverpool 5-1 in the quarter-finals of the Continental Tyres Cup before Christmas, which was our fifth straight victory in the competition, with Fran Kirby scoring a hat-trick (pictured below). We'd previously won each of our group matches against Brighton and Hove Albion, Bristol City, Yeovil Town and Tottenham Hotspur.

Today's visitors were victorious at Bristol City in their last-eight tie, which came after they too finished with a 100 per cent record from a group containing Everton, Birmingham City, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Oxford United.
 

VIEW FROM THE DRESSING ROOM

Captain Katie Chapman saw plenty of positives from the Arsenal game which the Blues can take into what promises to be another tight match.

'If you look at our bench, we've got so much strength in depth,' she said. 'Any player can come on and make a difference, and Jonna Andersson showed that in her first game.

'I think experience saw us through in that match. We've got a great team – we do everything together. We work hard as a team and we believe in every one of us. The team spirit here is unbelievable and that shows in the results and performances.

'We know our performance wasn't good enough against Arsenal, but we've shown we can get a result when we're not at our best and that will give us confidence. We're just going to focus on ourselves and what we're doing, training hard, and hopefully we'll get another positive result.

'Such a big win gives us a real boost ahead of this game. It was important for us to do that. However scrappy it was, we saw the game out and we were resilient as a team. That breeds confidence going into the next game.'

 

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

This will be the fourth semi-final between the sides, shared equally between the two domestic cup competitions, and the Blues currently hold the edge. We have twice beaten City to reach the final of the Women’s FA Cup. In 2015, a wonderful late goal from Ji So-Yun, who struck home a low shot to settle a tense match at Adams Park, secured our first visit to Wembley. The South Korean, of course, netted the only goal of the final as we lifted our first major trophy.

A year later, Ji was also on target against City in the last four. Her free-kick sent the tie into extra-time and, with penalties set to be required, Fran Kirby kept a cool head to score with virtually the last kick of the game to secure a return trip to Wembley.


However, City boast a Continental Tyres Cup semi-final success over us, having won in 2014 thanks to a goal from Toni Duggan, who now plays for Barcelona.
 

BENCH BOOST

Extra-time and then penalties will come into play if the two sides cannot be separated over 90 minutes. If an additional 30 minutes are required, both sides can call upon a fourth substitute. Incidentally, the first player to be brought on in such circumstances since football began trialling the rule in 2016 was Alvaro Morata, who was playing for Real Madrid in the Club World Cup.

 

THANKS AND GOOD LUCK MILLIE

Forward Millie Farrow, who progressed through our Centre of Excellence and into the first-team squad in 2015, has made a permanent move to Bristol City Women where she was previously on loan.

We thank Millie for her services to Chelsea Ladies and wish her well for the future.