It's astir fitting that the Women's FA Cup last volition spot Manchester City and Chelsea bash conflict again. The 2 sides already faced disconnected successful the Continental Cup last successful March, and they've each been connected rather the tally of signifier -- City person won their past 13 games and Chelsea their past 11 coming into Sunday's showdown.
While City won the Conti Cup handily, 3-1, but they couldn't drawback Chelsea successful the league arsenic the Blues held disconnected Arsenal connected the last matchday to instrumentality the Women's Super League title. But who volition person the precocious manus successful the FA Cup?
ESPN's Tom Hamilton, Kathleen McNamee, Connor O'Halloran and Sophie Lawson instrumentality a look up to the lucifer and connection their predictions for what mightiness beryllium successful store.
Coming into the game, which head-to-head conflict is astir interesting?
Hamilton: It'll beryllium fascinating to spot however Chelsea woody with the menace of Lauren Hemp. She has 5 goals successful 5 games crossed each competitions for City successful a guardant lineup including Ellen White and Khadija Shaw, who are some besides connected fire. Chelsea's 3-5-2 enactment means it'll beryllium a operation of Jess Carter and Niamh Charles, who'll beryllium marshalling Hemp connected that broadside of the pitch, portion Erin Cuthbert and Millie Bright volition besides beryllium connected manus to nullify that threat.
McNamee: I'm excited to spot the interaction that some midfields have. We cognize Man City and Chelsea are stacked up beforehand with awesome scorers, but I deliberation the midfield country is determination that some teams person looked astatine to assistance them get done hard periods. I'll beryllium funny to spot however the likes of Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway look up to Chelsea's Ji Soyun and Cuthbert.
O'Halloran: There are immoderate fig of imaginable answers to this, but for maine it's Lucy Bronze vs. Jonna Andersson/Guro Reiten. The England planetary was cardinal portion of the second-half turnaround successful March's Conti Cup triumph implicit Chelsea. Initially nullified successful the archetypal period, Bronze was capable to get guardant and find abstraction successful the 2nd and let City's dynamic beforehand 3 to truly origin damage. It volition beryllium absorbing to spot however Chelsea tin support her quiet, and Bronze volition beryllium plentifulness engaged successful defence, too.
Lawson: It's a spot of a cop-out, but for maine it's astir the wide wrestling for possession and however the press/counter-press plays retired passim the lucifer -- truthful it ends up being squad vs. squad alternatively than subordinate vs. player. That being said, with however acold Carter has travel since the commencement of the season, I deliberation it's going to beryllium amusive to spot who wins the conflict betwixt her and Hemp.
Why won't this beryllium a repetition of Man City's Conti Cup win?
Hamilton: City had travel retired of their tricky spell portion Chelsea were inactive successful the midst of an wounded situation erstwhile the 2 met. Emma Hayes' Chelsea were without Cuthbert (who is indispensable successful their system), the superb Fran Kirby, nor Jessie Fleming successful March. While Kirby is simply a uncertainty for the weekend, the others are backmost and firing.
There's besides an further affectional broadside to this lucifer for Chelsea -- the likes of Soyun and Drew Spence volition beryllium leaving astatine the extremity of the play and they'll privation to springiness them a large nonstop off. And besides from a City perspective, they're astir apt playing amended present than they were then.
McNamee: Both sides were astatine precise antithetic stages of their play erstwhile City bushed Chelsea. The London broadside volition person been buoyed by their WSL triumph connected the last time and City volition beryllium looking to beryllium that they are amended than their third-place finish. City volition beryllium facing a tougher Chelsea broadside than they did successful the Conti Cup and person faced a league decision to them since then.
O'Halloran: Both sides are successful white-hot signifier -- Chelsea person been flawless implicit the past 11 games successful each competitions since that Conti Cup last defeat, portion City's winning streak stems adjacent further backmost than that. In fact, the past decision some of these sides suffered was to each other. It's hard to prime a clear-cut winner, fto unsocial by a two-goal margin.
Lawson: Chelsea, and peculiarly Hayes, person a spot of a, "fool maine erstwhile ..." mentality -- and for the mode Man City fought backmost successful what is, basically, Chelsea's backmost garden, I conscionable can't spot the Blues not looking for immoderate grade of revenge. At the precise least, I tin easy ideate Hayes sticking Sophie Ingle connected Weir to nullify the Scot's quality to dictate City's attack.
Which broadside needs the triumph the most?
Hamilton: For City, a triumph present volition implicit a home cupful Double and adhd a lighter shadiness of bluish to the English season. It'll beryllium a connection triumph and a motion of intent up of adjacent play if City are to assertion the FA Cup last connected Sunday, for what would beryllium their 3rd triumph successful 4 years.
For Chelsea, it would cement their dominance, completing a back-to-back league and FA Cup Double. They'd caput into adjacent play arsenic the squad to beat, with eyes connected transferring that home expanse into signifier connected the European stage. Just 3 different teams person done the WSL/FA Cup Double, showing conscionable however hard it is. You person to accidental that City request to triumph this Cup much than Chelsea to bloody their chemoreceptor up of adjacent term.
McNamee: A triumph for Chelsea would asseverate their dominance successful the English game, portion a triumph for City would amusement that they person recovered from their aboriginal play difficulties. A City triumph would besides apt amusement much of a progression for that squad aft 2 defeats to Chelsea successful the league and show that the Conti Cup triumph wasn't conscionable a one-off big-event triumph for the side.
O'Halloran: When the speech of bequest comes up, it's hard to look past Chelsea. After a disappointing radical signifier exit of this year's Champions League, a home Double would support the bully times rolling successful West London. Hayes' Chelsea are present to physique a dynasty, truthful 2 cupful last defeats to City successful 1 play would truly sting.
Lawson: It's adjacent but it's got to beryllium City who request this more. Chelsea person conscionable claimed their 3rd successive league rubric and person been the amended squad successful the Champions League implicit the past mates of seasons; crossed the board, since their lone league rubric (in 2016) City person mislaid ground.
With 3 FA Cup last wins each and Man City ne'er having mislaid successful the final, if City tin assertion their 4th earlier Chelsea do, it volition beryllium a immense intelligence boost for them going into adjacent season.
Both sides person experienced ups-and-downs - volition that beryllium a factor?
Hamilton: Both teams person suffered spells of upheaval during this term. Emma Hayes illustrated this earlier their last WSL lucifer of the play by listing those who had been absent done wounded oregon illness. While a turbulent spell successful January saw their Champions League run extremity abruptly successful the radical signifier connected head-to-head extremity difference, they managed to support their manus successful with the league and that endurance volition beryllium cardinal connected Sunday.
For City, their dodgy spell came earlier Christmas arsenic they dropped 11 points successful six matches with the likes of Steph Houghton, Ellie Roebuck, Bronze and Chloe Kelly each absent. They, too, weathered that spell to decorativeness the play with 13 consecutive wins and aft a play wherever squad extent was tested, expect some teams to spell all-out connected Sunday.
McNamee: I don't deliberation the turbulence for either broadside volition origin massively arsenic City person recovered from their wounded spot incredibly good portion Chelsea person shown they person the intelligence spot to grind retired wins contempt happenings successful the boardroom. Arguably, Chelsea person had a much hard clip arsenic of precocious but their extent connected the seat should assistance them.
O'Halloran: I'm not definite it will. Hayes has spoken galore times astir increasing into the play and peaking astatine the concern end, portion City's aboriginal play woes came amid a flurry of injuries. Both sides are playing astatine a precocious level and look to person enactment immoderate past issues down them.
Lawson: With the tailspin Manchester City were successful astatine the commencement of the commencement of the season, which included conceding 7 unanswered goals astatine location to Chelsea implicit 2 fixtures successful the abstraction of a fortnight, the squad volition beryllium determined to amusement they're inactive 1 of the champion sides successful England and portion Chelsea volition privation revenge for the Conti Cup final, City volition consciousness they person a people to settle, too.
Let's speech MVPs: Which subordinate is cardinal for each team?
Hamilton: After her singular goal-scoring treble astatine the weekend, each Chelsea eyes volition beryllium connected superstar Sam Kerr. Her 2 strikes against Manchester United were conscionable singular goals and reinforced wherefore she is 1 of the world's champion players. But Ji changed that lucifer for Chelsea connected Sunday -- her instauration astatine half-time allowed the Blues to propulsion up higher, and her to dictate the tempo. She whitethorn not commencement -- but she's indispensable arsenic portion of the squad.
For City, Weir has enjoyed different superb season, and scored doubly successful their Conti Cup triumph successful March. She's indispensable to everything they bash and volition request to beryllium connected occurrence if they're to spot disconnected Chelsea.
McNamee: Hemp has been perfectly important to Man City's occurrence this season, peculiarly erstwhile they were going done a unsmooth patch. For Chelsea, Ji changed the crippled erstwhile she came onto the transportation connected the WSL's last time and created abstraction for them to flourish against Man United. Chelsea volition besides beryllium hoping Kerr tin repetition immoderate of her large crippled magic.
O'Halloran: Weir arrives successful large matches clip and again for City, and she volition request to bash the aforesaid connected Sunday. Her brace successful the Conti Cup helped Gareth Taylor's broadside to victory, and she should person netted a gilt-edge accidental against Chelsea a mates of weeks anterior to equalise there. If she brings her shooting boots, Chelsea volition request to ticker for her arsenic she pops up successful the box.
Lawson: The cliché is that bully defences triumph you titles but, for maine astatine least, cupful finals are each astir the attackers, particularly erstwhile you person 2 of the champion successful the state successful the match. So it's got to beryllium Kerr, she's a large subordinate for a large juncture and not lone is she successful bully goal-scoring signifier close present but she people does a batch of disconnected the shot antiaircraft enactment that could good beryllium vital.
So, last predictions: Who wins and who scores?
Hamilton: I'm going for a Chelsea win. I tin spot it being acold person than the erstwhile FA Cup last wherever Chelsea swiped Arsenal speech 4-0, and I tin spot Kerr grabbing a mates and different from a acceptable piece. While Weir and Shaw volition get connected the scoresheet for City it won't beryllium capable to halt a 3-2 triumph for Hayes' side.
McNamee: I deliberation it volition beryllium adjacent betwixt the sides, but I spot Chelsea having the edge. Their wins arsenic of precocious haven't needfully been pretty, but Hayes and her squad cognize however to measurement it up a cogwheel erstwhile the going gets tough. I don't deliberation it volition beryllium a extremity fest, astir apt astir the 2-1 mark, with Kerr apt connected the scoresheet and Hemp connected the Man City side.
O'Halloran: Chelsea volition beryllium flimsy favourites, but City person shown earlier they are up to the task. I'll beryllium connected the obstruction and accidental it volition beryllium close. Chelsea triumph 2-1, and Kerr provides the prima powerfulness to container the winner.
Lawson: There's usually a batch of goals connected amusement erstwhile the 2 sides meet, truthful possibly the amended question is: who won't score? Hemp, Ellen White, Kerr, Bright getting a cheeky 1 and astir apt idiosyncratic with a worldie ... endless goals, afloat chaos. It could beryllium 3-0 oregon it could beryllium a shoot-out and I cannot foretell however it volition go, but if I person to, let's say, City to triumph ... narrowly.