Saturday, 14th May will see Arsenal Ladies compete at Wembley Stadium against Chelsea Ladies and try to win the FA Women’s Cup for 14th time.
Who could start for Chelsea Ladies?
Let’s have a look first at our opponents and London rivals Chelsea Ladies. Their squad has strength in-depth, strong technical ability, and a lot of pace but they also have powerful and physical players. They have a well-balanced side mixing all the sides of the game that are required in English football.
They more or less play in a 4-4-2/4-2-4/4-1-5 system depending on the players in the line-up. The biggest danger with Chelsea is they have a plan A and a plan B, something that nearly all FA WSL teams are not able to do.
They can play the ball possession based attacking game, control the play and find space with patient build-up and they can also play deeper and wait for the space in front them to open and hit the opposition on the break.
With speedy forwards like So-Yu, Aluko, Carney, Davison and Kirby running at full pace, Arsenal will need to make sure players are not out of position in defensive transitions.
In terms of starting 11, the goalkeeper, back four and defensive midfield player are all set unless there is an injury prior to the game. It looks like this: Lindhal; Blundell, Flaherty, Bright, Rafferty. Chapman will play in front of the back four.
In attack, there are four places and five quality players vying for those places: Carney, Davison, Kirby, So-Yun and Aluko. Emma Hayes is spoilt for choice there.
For the final place in the starting 11 in midfield alongside Chapman, there are two main options: Spence, who has recently scored two goals against Liverpool, or Bailey in a more defensive role. The most attacking options would be for Chelsea to play in a 4-1-5 with all five international forwards starting and only Chapman in front of the defence.
The Chelsea Ladies 11 is quite settled with nine players more or less certain to start while for the Arsenal Ladies it is much more difficult to know who will be starting the final.
The expected line-up would be: Lindhal; Blundell, Bright, Flaherty, Rafferty; Chapman, Spence; Davison, So-Yun, Carney, Kirby.
Who could start for the Arsenal Ladies?
When you analyse the different starting 11 from Pedro Losa for the eight games played so far, Van Veenendaal the goalkeeper is the only player who has played all the games for 90 minutes.
Looking at the recent games, the centre-back partnership of Stoney and Henning should be there as Jemma Rose lost her place due to mistakes against City and Chelsea.
In front of those two defenders, Janssen who has been superb and consistent should start as a defensive midfielder ahead of Williams, whose current form is nowhere near what she has shown for Liverpool and England.
In the box-to-box position, Jordan Nobbs is the first choice, but was not in the squad in the Birmingham game, so an injury would be a big blow to the team. Luckily enough, there is a natural replacement for her as Williamson has exactly the same box-to-box profile, doing all the clever runs from deep positions.
Danielle Carter is also in superb form, mainly used on the wing, and must be a starter for the final. Alex Scott is the first choice at right-back and should be a certain starter.
Vicky Losada has started the last two games as the third midfield player and therefore is likely to get the nod.
The most telling thing about the current team is at times it looks like a collection of top individuals, rather than a team as the rotation system did not really allow for the players to know each other well enough on the pitch.
So the Arsenal Ladies starting 11 could look like this: Van Veenendaal; Scott, Stoney, Henning, A; Janssen, Nobbs/B, Losada; Carter, C, D.
A could be Williamson or Mitchell
B could be Williamson, Williams, Smith or Van De Donk
C could be Natalia or Oshoala
D could be Corredera, McCabe or Van De Donk
In order to win the FA Cup final, the Arsenal Ladies will need to make sure that there are no individual mistakes as Chelsea will gratefully take advantage of themes seen in the League game at Borehamwood.
The passing quality in possession will also need to be spot-on as turnovers will quickly become dangerous if players are found out of position. It will be all about finding the right balance between attacking and defending properly.
An improved performance from the previous games will be needed against an excellent Chelsea side that is scoring goals for fun but conceding as well.
Being efficient in both penalty areas will be crucial as will be scoring first because, should Chelsea take the lead, they will enjoy sitting back and sending balls behind the Arsenal defence with their four speedy forwards chasing everything and beating the defenders for pace.