Arsenal and Chelsea will meet in the 2021 Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on Sunday, which falls on the 100th anniversary of the FA banning women’s football from being played at football league grounds – stopping what had been an increasingly popular sport in its tracks for 50 years.
More than 45,000 tickets and counting have been sold for a contest that stands to break the attendance record set when these two clubs last faced off in the final under the arch in 2018.
This is the culmination of the delayed 2020/21 FA Cup, a knock-on effect of the 2019/20 competition being pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. But it is otherwise the first chance to win silverware this season and both sides will be keen to make a statement.
These two clubs are currently first (Arsenal) and second (Chelsea) in the WSL table and it promises to be battle of the two best teams in England and two of the best in all of Europe.
This is everything you nee to know about the game…
When is kick off? Sunday 5 December, 14:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Wembley Stadium
TV channel/live stream? BBC One/BBC iPlayer (UK), ESPN+ (US), Optus Sport (Australia)
Highlights? BBC Sport website
Referee? Helen Conley
USWNT star Tobin Heath is still sidelined with an injury that has been troubling her in recent weeks and is therefore unavailable on Sunday. But Arsenal do not have any other new injury problems and will have Mana Iwabuchi, Simone Boye Sorensen, Caitlin Foord and Jennifer Beattie all available too.
Leah Williamson remains out and is a big loss in such a huge game.
Pernille Harder’s return is a big boost for Chelsea after overcoming an injury that had been troubling her in recent weeks and saw her miss international duty with Denmark. Dutch defender Aniek Nouwen is also fit again.
Sam Kerr, who finished third in the Ballon d’Or Feminin on Monday, will play despite travelling back from Australia after international duty and being unable to train before Saturday.
Maren Mjelde is not expected to play in this one as she continues to build up fitness following recent return to action from a long-term injury.
Arsena (4-3-3): Zinsberger, Maritz, Wubben-Moy, Beattie, Catley; Maanum, Walti, Little; Mead, Miedema, McCabe
Chelsea (3-4-3): Berger; Bright, Carter, Eriksson; Cuthbert, Leupolz, Ji, Reiten; Kirby, Kerr, Harder
When Arsenal and Chelsea met on the opening weekend of the current WSL season in September, the game ended in what was considered a shock 3-2 win the Gunners. They had been on an exceptional run to end the previous campaign, but had been through a change of manager, while Chelsea were reigning champions and had been to the Champions League final in May.
It was also Arsenal’s first competitive win against Chelsea in three years since September 2018 they won 5-0 away at Kingsmeadow en-route to their last WSL title.
Chelsea beat Arsenal home and away in the WSL during the abandoned 2019/20 season, as well winning in the Continental Cup final in 2020. Last season’s WSL meetings ended in a 3-0 Chelsea win at Kingsmeadow in February and a 1-1 draw at Meadow Park in November.
Chelsea were caught cold when these two met back in September. They hadn’t had much of a pre-season and were beaten by an Arsenal side that while not having much in the way of preparation with incoming boss Jonas Eidevall, had already played four competitive games in Europe.
Chelsea have found a winning rhythm since then, while Arsenal haven’t been quite so imperious in their last couple of league games as they were earlier in the campaign.
This one promises to be a tight contest with narrow winning margins, but Chelsea could edge it.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea