Thursday, May 19

Fran Kirby recalls her favourite Women’s FA Cup memories ahead of 2021 final

Chelsea forward Fran Kirby has said there is ‘no better feeling’ than scoring in the FA Cup final and winning the trophy as she did against Arsenal in 2018, with the Blues preparing to face the Gunners again in the showpiece event at Wembley.

Kirby scored Chelsea’s crucial third goal in a 3-1 win over Arsenal at Wembley three years ago that killed off a potential comeback, going on to get her hands on the trophy soon afterwards.

That and scoring a last-minute extra-time winner against Manchester City to reach the 2016 final are her favourite personal memories from the competition.

“I really enjoyed that final in 2018. The mentality going into it, we were all extremely focused and ready,” Kirby said ahead of the 2021 showdown.

Chelsea were leading 2-0 midway through the second half when Vivianne Miedema pulled one back for Arsenal, threatening to make a game of it again. But Kirby restored that two-goal cushion almost immediately to seal a famous win under the Wembley arch.

“[Arsenal] had just scored, so there was a bit of pressure thinking, ‘Are they going to come back and get another one and get into it?’” the player recalled.

“I was happy to score because it’s an honour to score at Wembley, it’s somewhere that you dream about growing up playing at, so to be able to do that was a dream come true.

“The goal [in 2018], winning the trophy at Wembley against Arsenal, that was really special. But also another one would be beating Manchester City in the semi-final [in 2016] when I scored in the last minute and the whole place just erupted – so that was pretty cool.

“Ultimately, the top [memory] is scoring and winning, there is no better feeling than that.”

Chelsea have dominated the WSL in recent years, winning four of the last six titles and the 2017 Spring Series, but they have not held the FA Cup aloft since that victory over Arsenal three years ago.

“The FA Cup is a massive, massive trophy that we want to win and it’s a game that you get to play at Wembley,” Kirby explained. “Obviously there is going to be a crowd there and we just want to put on a good performance and get the win.

Chelsea beat Arsenal to lift the FA Cup in 2018 but haven't won it sinceChelsea beat Arsenal to lift the FA Cup in 2018 but haven't won it since

Chelsea beat Arsenal to lift the FA Cup in 2018 but haven’t won it since / Jordan Mansfield/GettyImages

“Ultimately, we want to win every trophy that possibly can. We won this back in 2018 and we want to get that trophy back here – we fell short last year when we got knocked out in the semi-finals. We’re in a really good space at the moment and we know that we want to win and we’re excited, but also we’re remaining focused on what we need to do to beat a quality Arsenal side.”

Kirby may have history as an FA Cup final goalscorer and recently reached her milestone 100th goal for Chelsea, but admits she has no plans of how to celebrate if she does find the net again. Even with enough practice, the England star admitted she always gets too lost in the moment.

“I don’t really have a celebration, I just run around like crazy,” she revealed.

“My friends are like, ‘You need to do a celebration’, but I just forget in that moment. I’m just too caught up in the fact that I’ve scored and I’m happy, so I’m not really much of a [planned] celebrator.”

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