Both holders Chelsea and first-time finalists Man Utd are aiming to secure the first leg of a domestic double as they face off in the Women’s FA Cup final at Wembley on Sunday.
The Blues have won the competition four times in the last six years and have their eyes set on another victory at a sold-out Wembley.
Manchester United, however, are on the verge of a first major trophy since winning promotion to the WSL after the club reformed in 2018.
The teams occupy the top two spots in the Women’s Super League, so Sunday’s winner will fancy their chances of a double.
So, who will emerge triumphantly this weekend? Sky Sports’ Maryam Naz explores…
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A rocky road to the final for both teams…
Although Manchester United may have had the more favourable route to this weekend’s final, they have sometimes made things unnecessarily difficult for themselves.
This was never more evident than when Mary Earps put the ball into her own net 26 minutes into their semi-final clash with Brighton.
Leah Galton and Alessia Russo saved her blushes with two goals to swing the tide around at the hour mark, but once again, Man Utd created more dilemmas to solve when they allowed Danielle Carter to equalise in the 75th minute.
It took an 89th-minute goal from Rachel Williams to secure a first domestic trip to Wembley.
Chelsea may not have been as error-prone in their ventures, but they were short-staffed against Aston Villa and subsequently had to walk a tight line.
Sam Kerr predictably swooped in as the saviour in the 53rd minute, and the Blues held on to deny Rachel Daly and her teammates a spot in the final.
Can Man Utd’s attack supersede Chelsea’s?
Man Utd had scored the most goals in the WSL this season until Chelsea racked up 13 without reply across two league games against Everton and Leicester.
The Blues are now level on goal difference with Skinner’s team, but they will be wary of their opponents’ powerful transitions.
Against Tottenham, it was on full display. Nikita Parris and Galton dismantled the opposition defence with ease, but they weren’t the only contributors to the attack.
This season, Man Utd have shared the goals – there are at least five players in the squad who have scored five goals.
The selfless nature of the front four has provided them with an extra dimension, and fringe players have contributed when rotated in.
Against Spurs, Skinner showcased this by bringing in Millie Turner in for Aoife Mannion, while the suspended Katie Zelem was swapped out for Vilde Boe Risa.
Risa revelled in her role, picking passes through to Russo, while Turner connected with the wingers to contribute to the attack.
It’s likely that we’ll see her in a 4-2-3-1 setup alongside Hayley Ladd in defensive midfield.
The experienced Ona Batlle is likely to slot back into defence alongside Maya Le Tissier, Turner and former Chelsea defender Hannah Blundell. Meanwhile, Parris, Toone and Galton will attack behind Russo.
How will the Blues combat fatigue with key players only just returning from injury?
Chelsea fans rejoiced over the return of Pernille Harder and Kadeisha Buchanan, given how short-staffed the squad has been in recent months. But it’s worth remembering that they have only just returned to action.
The pair had been absent for large swathes of the season with knee and hamstring injuries. An FA Cup final is an intense arena for continuing their reintegration, but neither has shown any sign yet of struggling with Hayes’ demanding tactics: Buchanan came on as a late substitution against Leicester and had an immediate impact, while Harder racked up consecutive braces in as many games.
If workload remains a concern for both, they aren’t the only Chelsea players for whom this is the case: Hayes’ side have played 14 times in four competitions since March 5, and there have been limited rotations.
And Chelsea will be keen to steer clear of the kind of injuries suffered by rivals Arsenal, who have four of their core players recovering from ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injuries.
So, will Hayes opt to select her best players, or will she err on the side of caution and continue giving them reduced minutes?
Choose the former, and we’ll likely see Harder in the No 10 role while Lauren James reverts to her preferred position off either flank. With Guro Reiten also in the frame, swift counter-attacks are likely.
The rest will slot into a familiar 4-2-3-1, with Kerr leading the line.
There is a slight concern over the Australian international’s fitness given that she’s been battling a non-COVID illness this week, but Hayes has insisted that “she will be fine.”
If Chelsea are to again exert their dominance at Wembley, they’ll want Kerr to be as healthy as possible.