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Womens FA Cup quarter Final Preview

2019/2020 FA Cup Resumes

As strange as its sounds to talk about FA Cup Quarter Finals in September, with all that’s going on in the world credit to the FA for finishing last season Women’s FA Cup.

FA Director of the women’s professional game Kelly Simmons said:

“A significant amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to ensure the Women’s FA Cup can be completed and I am delighted that we have received the necessary approval for its conclusion”.

Simmons continued:

“The Women’s FA Cup is a showpiece fixture in the football calendar and because of that there was a huge appetite for the remaining rounds to be played”.

The show piece final will take place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 31st of October. But before that we have the quarter and semi finals to be played.

The quarter finals will take place this weekend starting with the north London derby on Saturday (Kick off 17:15). The winners of this will face the winners of Leicester City v Manchester City who met on Sunday at 14:00. Also on Sunday Everton host Chelsea at 13:00 with the winners facing Brighton or Birmingham who will face off at 14:00.

All games will be played behind closed doors. Arsenal’s game with Tottenham will be shown on BBC2 from 5pm on Saturday. While Everton v Chelsea will be streamed on the FA Player.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur

Arsenal head into this derby fixture having gotten off to a flying start in the WSL. With 9-1 and 6-1 wins over West ham and Reading respectively. The gunners have been on fire in front of goal. Tottenham however have suffered defeat to Everton 1-0 and drew with West ham 1-1.

New Arsenal player Steph Catley spoke to the clubs website about the competition:

“Its a brand new experience for me. the reason you play football is to win trophies, so to come in at such a late stage and be really close to winning one is really exciting”

Arsenal boast a wealth of international talent within their squad. Dutch midfielder Jill Roord has had a great start with six goals in two games. While fellow Netherlands international Vivianne Miedema has scored four goals so far. The Gunners also boast the likes of England stars Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs, Dutch attacker Danielle Van de Donk and Scotland international Kim Little. Joe Montemurro’s side, therefore, must be considered heavy favourites.

Tottenham will be no push over’s, however, after recently signing US legend and World Cup winner Alex Morgan. Alex spoke to the club website about coming to play in England:

“I’ve heard so many great things about the WSL and some of my team-mates from the national team have come over and signed with other clubs in the WSL”. “I wanted to challenge myself and play in a different league”.

Players To Watch

For Arsenal Jill Roord and Vivianne Miedema have been scoring for fun. Jordan Nobbs and Danielle Van de Donk will also play an important part for Arsenal. As for Tottenham Australia defender Alanna Kennedy will need to be at her best. Anna Filbey will be looking to continue her good form, after Wales’ narrow 1-0 defeat to Norway. But there could be a staring role for Alex Morgan who may make her first appearance.

Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Tottenham

Everton V Chelsea

Everton host Chelsea in Sundays early game Kick off 13:00. The game will be streamed live on the FA Player.

Everton head into this game on the back of two wins in the WSL. A 1-0 victory over Tottenham and a 4-0 win over Bristol City. Lucy Graham scored twice in the win over Bristol while Isobel Christiansen got the winner against Tottenham.

Chelsea opened the WSL with at draw away to Manchester United (1-1) with a goal from Sam Kerr. In their second game they hammered Bristol City by nine goals. Kirby, Mjelde, Leupolz, Cuthbert, Bright, England, Charles, Harder and Kerr all getting on the scoresheet.

In the last five meeting between these side Chelsea have won four and there has been one draw. Everton’s last win was in 2013 when they won 3-2.

Players To Watch

For Everton Ingrid Wold the Norwegian international helped Norway to a 1-0 win over Wales on Tuesday will be key to stopping Chelsea’s So-Yun Ji, Fran kirby and Beth England. Scotland international Lucy Graham has two goals for the season and will be looking to add more.

For Chelsea they have world stars right across the squad. Norwegian trio Maren Mjelde, Maria Thorisdottir and Guro Reiten. Sophie Ingle, So-Yon Ji, Fran Kirby can all change games. While Sam Kerr is one of the best strikers in the world.

Prediction: Everton 0-4 Chelsea

Brighton V Birmingham City

These sides met each other on the opening day of the WSL season. Brighton won the game by two goals to nil, with stikes from Megan Connolly and Inessa Kaagman. The score flattered the Blues as Brighton hit fifteen attempts to their four.

Brighton’s second game saw them hold Man City to a goalless draw. They sit in sixth place after two games. After finishing ninth at the early end of last season Brighton will want to push on this season.

Birmingham’s poor start continued with a 5-2 defeat to Manchester United. They did lead in the match after conceding early. A Claudia Walker equaliser and an own goal from Abbie McManus giving them a brief lead. United leveled before the break, then hit three without reply in the second half.

Players to Watch

For Brighton Inessa Kaagman and Kayleigh Green will be important. Also 18 year old english defender Maya Le Tissier has looked a great talent in the first two rounds of the WSL. Birmingham will be looking for more goals from Claudia Walker.

Prediction: Brighton 2-0 Birmingham City

Leicester City v Manchester City

Leicester enter the quarter finals as the only Championship side remaining in the competition. They have begun their season with a 3-0 win over Blackburn and a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United. They sit second in the championship on goal difference.

FA Cup holders Manchester City have a win and draw in their opening WSL fixtures. City boss Gareth Taylor spoke to clubs website ahead of this game saying:

“The girls are under no illusions that we need to be better in the final third with our decision-making and final action where it matters”.

Taylor continued:

“Goals are important and of course, we don’t want to concede any. Its a positive in that respect- we’ve had two clean sheets”.

Aoife Mannion, Megan Campbell and Lauren Hemp are all confirmed to be out of contention though injuries. In positive news though Rose Lavelle may get her first start.

Players to Watch

For Leicester Natasha Flint has three goals in two games for the season. Millie Farrow has one goal in one and is another Leicester player to watch. Manchester City have an outstanding squad of international players, however, keep an eye on American pair Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis.

Prediction: Leicester City 0-3 Manchester City

Should Lucy Bronze now be considered the best England player of all time?

This week England full back Lucy Bronze returned to the Women Super League, signing a two-year contract with her previous club, Manchester City. 

Bronze concluded her three-year stay with Olympiqe Lyon Feminine by lifting the Champions League last month as the French side secured the trophy with a 3-1 win over Frauen Bundesliga Champions VlB Wolfsburg in San Sebastian. 

During her remarkably successful time with the French Champions, she won all that was available to her: claiming three Champions League titles, three league titles, two Coup de France Feminine and a Trophee des Championnes.

Indeed, the 28-year old also secured a number of individual allocates, including the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2019. 

On Bronze’s return to Manchester, Head Coach Gareth Taylor said:

“She is an unrivalled talent and her endless individual and team awards only scratch the surface of what a superb player she is, not only at Club level, but also internationally with England.”

For the Three Lions Bronze has also produced some memorable moments, one that immediately springs to mind is that stunning goal against Norway in their last 16 game back in 2015.

This, however, begs the question, should she now be considered the best female player that England has ever produced?

Well, when you think of great England Women footballer’s one name that immediately springs to mind is Kelly Smith.

Smith was able to successfully represent the Three Lions for the best part of two decades earning 117 caps. She was one who arguably blazed a trail for future England footballers such as Bronze. 

During her club career she scored a remarkable 125 goals in 144 games for Arsenal Ladies over three separate spells with the Gunners. 

Smith also played for a number of American football teams such as New Jersey Lady Stallions, Philadelphia Charge and New Jersey Wildcats in her eight years in the USA. 

Ultimately, Smith ended her career with 20 trophies in three separate, which included starring in Arsenal’s amazing 2006-07 season where they secured the Quadruple.  She played a key part of this success by scoring 30 goals in 34 matches across those four competitions.  She was also presented the FA Player of Year award twice. 

BBC Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce said:

“She had power, strength, a lovely eye for a pass, finishing of course and was so dynamic in the penalty area. 

“She was a leader because of the way she played, that she demanded respect from her opponents and team-mates.  She was the first England women’s football superstar.” 

In short, what Smith was able to achieve while the English game was not fully professional was terrific but Bronze is certainly on the right path to either match or surpass her.

It is, however, difficult to compare the two players directly as they play different positions.  Bronze is the epitome of the modern day full back, while she can also be utilised in midfield and at times the centre of defence, where as Smith applied her trade typically further forward as a striker.

Overall I would still consider to be Smith to be the greatest player to come from these shores having been able to perform at a consistently high level for a number of years, added to that Bronze has still to win a European trophy with an English club. 

The 28-year old, however, certainly is on the right path and comes back to the WSL at a time when the League has a chance to establish itself as the world’s finest women’s division.  

What do you think? Should Lucy Bronze be considered England’s greatest ever player? Would Kelly Smith still get your vote? Feel free to post in the comments below….

WSL RoundUp Week One: Jill Roord Hat-Trick inspires the Gunners To Victory

This past weekend marked the return of the FA Women Super League, where remarkably the last League matches concluded at the end of February. 

Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal, however, put the disappointment of last month’s Champions League exit to PSG successfully behind them with a resounding 6-1 victory over Kelly Chambers’ Reading, who had not played a game since February.

Indeed, the Royals new midfielder, Jess Fishlock did not have the dream debut, as the Gunners were ruthless in front of goal. Scottish international Kim Little gave Montemurro’s side the early lead with a composed finish from Leah Williamson’s pinpoint cross in the fifteenth minute.  While last season’s Football Writers’ Player of the Year, Vivianne Miedema, subsequently doubled the North London team’s advantage before Jill Roord was able to add a third just before half-time. 

Things did not improve for Chamber’s side in the second half as Little was able to successfully set up Roord for Arsenal’s fourth of the day.  Last season’s golden boot winner, Miedema then made up for an uncharacteristic miss by adding a fifth with a terrifically struck shot. 

Ten minutes from time, Roord was able to round off scoring for the Gunners by completing her hat trick after a lovely flowing team move. Ex- Arsenal striker, Danielle Carter managed to grab a late consolation for the Royals but by then the game itself was over as a contest.  

Last season’s WSL champions Chelsea, meanwhile, were held to a 1-1 draw at Manchester United’s Leigh Sports Village stadium.  The Blues took the lead in the 25thminute through Australian International striker Sam Kerr after she had managed to successfully convert a cross from Fran Kirby.  

Casey Stoney’s United, however, were always in the game and saw Leah Galton’s header hit the bar just before half-time.  The Red Devils were, however, able to grab an equaliser ten minutes from time when Galton was able to convert substitute Jackie Groenen’s cross.  

There was still time for Chelsea’s record signing and the most expensive player in women’s football history, Pernille Harder to make her much-anticipated debut, however, she was unable to find that break through as the game ended 1-1.  

Gareth Taylor’s first WSL in charge of Manchester City ended with a 2-0 victory over newly promoted Aston Villa.  England striker Georgia Stanway scored both goals in the first 21 minutes, which were created by two defensive mix-ups at the back by Villa’s defence.  Overall, Taylor would be encouraged by new signing Chloe Kelly’s performance, through out the game she was able to cause the Villa defence a number of problems. While the American, Sam Mewis also grew impressively into her midfield role as the game went on.  

Two goals from club captain Lucy Graham helped Everton get off to an impressive start as they secured a 4-0 away win against Bristol City, while two second half goals from Megan Connolly and Inessa Kaagman helped Hope Powell’s Brighton on the way to a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City.  

Finally West Ham’s Adriana Leon scored a brilliant goal in the WSL’s first London derby of the season as the Hammers kicked off their season with a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.  

What next?

This weekend’s round of fixtures kicks-off with West Ham hosting Arsenal, in a match that will be played in front of roughly 1,000 supporters. This is part of the Government’s latest pilot scheme of allowing people to attend sport.  The game will be due to kick-off at 5:20pm on Saturday 12thSeptember at Dagenham and Redbridge’s Victoria Road. 

On Sunday 13thSeptember sees the rest of week two’s WSL ties as Champions Chelsea will be looking to get their first win of the campaign at home to Bristol City.  While, Everton will look to build on their impressive start as they are at home to Tottenham Hotspur.  

Elsewhere, Manchester United travel to face Birmingham City, Gareth Taylor’s Manchester City host Brighton and Reading will be looking to bounce back from their heavy opening day defeat as they play newly promoted Aston Villa. 

September 12th

West Ham United vs Arsenal 5:20pm 

September 13th

Chelsea vs Bristol City 12:30pm

Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur 1pm

Birmingham City vs Manchester United 2pm

Manchester City vs Brighton & Hove Albion 2pm

Reading vs Aston Villa 2pm

Women’s Champions League – Who are the Last Eight?

The Women’s elite European competition is set to resume this week and just like the men’s tournament, it will be an eight-team knockout format with one-off ties.

The tournament will run from the 21-30thAugust with the games due to be played out in Spain at the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao and the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.

So, with that in mind, who are the remaining sides left in the competition?

Glasgow City

Beginning with Scottish side, Glasgow City, who have been the dominant side in Scotland for the best part of a decade.  They are appearing in the Quarter Finals for just the second time in their history.  Their only previous Quarter Final was against French side Paris Saint Germain back in 2015, which resulted in a 7-0 on aggregate loss.

Scott Booth, who has been in charge since 2015, currently coaches them. The Scottish side beat Brondby 3-1 on penalties in the previous round of 16 to get to this stage, following a 2-2 on aggregate scoreline. It is, however, difficult to see them progressing much further as they face a formidable German outfit in the form of VfL Wolfsburg.

VfL Wolfsburg

The German Champions, VfL Wolfsburg will be out to add the Champions League title to an already impressive 2019/20 campaign. They have previously won the Champions League in 2013 and 2014.  This made them the first German team to successful defend the European crown.

They comfortably saw off Dutch side FC Twente 7-0 on aggregate in the previous round and are rightly considered one of the tournament favourites alongside defending champions Lyon to lift the trophy in San Sebastian.

Atletico Madrid

Spanish side, Atletico Madrid are appearing in the Quarter Finals for the very first time.  In their four previous appearances they have never managed to get further than the last 16 where they have lost to Lyon in 2015-16 and Wolfsburg in 2018-19. They impressively saw off WSL runners-up Manchester City in the previous round.

The Madrid based side have been pretty inconsistent this season even though they managed to finish second in the Primera Iberdrola behind their Quarter Final opponents Barcelona.  Their preparation has also been disrupted after five of their players tested positive for COVID-19 last week leading to the cancellation of their training sessions.  Will subsequently begin their all-Spanish tie as underdogs.

Barcelona

The second of the two Spanish sides in the last eight, Barcelona were in the process of having their most successful season ever. The Catalan club had won 19 of their 21 league matches as well as the Supercopa de Espana.  They subsequently claimed the Primera Iberdrola by a nine-point margin and their first since 2015.

Lluis Cortes’s side saw off Belarus’s FC Minsk in the Last 16 and will start the Quarter Final with domestic rivals Atletico as clear favourites.

Arsenal

The Gunners are set to take part in their first WCL Quarter-Final in six years.  The North London club will need to win the competition to qualify for next season’s Champions League as they finished in third in the Women Super League.

Joe Montemurro’s side will be hoping the Football Writers Footballer of The Year, Vivianne Miedema can fire his team to European glory.  Their tie with Paris Saint Germain, however, is one that could certainly go either way.

Paris Saint Germain

French side Paris Saint Germain have reached the final of this competition twice before, their last of these was back in 2015 where they lost to FFC Frankfurt. Head Coach Olivier Echouafni has been in charge since 2018.

Echouafni’s team defeated Breidablik in the Last 16 and their tie with Arsenal is arguably the hardest to predict.

Olympique Lyon

Olympique Lyon has won the Division 1 Feminine an impressive 14 times in a row since the side was formed back in 2004. They have also won the Champions League a record six-times and are rightfully considered favourites to go all the way again.

Managed by Jean-Luc Vasseur their squad includes the likes of England international fullback Lucy Bronze, winger Nikita Parris and BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year for 2019, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg.

Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich are coached by Jens Scheuer, who has had the unenviable task of playing catch up with VfL Wolfsburg, who have won the Frauen Bundesliga crown for the past four years.

Last season’s Semi Finalists, however, were confidently able to dispatch BIIK- Kazygurt in the last round. The German side have a tough ask to progress any further as they face last season’s winners, Olympique Lyon next.

Tournament Schedule

Friday 21stAugust

Glasgow City vs Wolfsburg (5pm kick-off Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian)

Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona (5pm kick-off San Mames Stadium, Bilbao – BT Sport 3 HD

Saturday 22ndAugust

Arsenal vs Paris Saint Germain (7pm kick-off Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian) – BT Sport 1 HD

 Lyon vs Bayern Munich (7pm kick-off San Mames Stadium, Bilbao) – BT Sport 2 HD

 Tuesday 25thAugust

Glasgow City/Wolfsburg vs Atletico/Barcelona (7pm Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian) – BT Sport 1 HD

 Wednesday 26thAugust

Arsenal/PSG vs Lyon/Bayern (7pm San Mames Stadium, Bilbao) – BT Sport 1 HD

Sunday 30thAugust

Final (7pm Anoeta Stadium, San Sebastian) – BT Sport 1 HD & Ultimate

How to watch?

All the matches will be available to watch on BT Sport.

Who do you fancy to go all the way to lift the trophy in San Sebastian on Sunday 30th August?

England’s Jodie Taylor moves to French side Lyon

England’s Jodie Taylor has joined French side Lyon until the end of 2020, the club have announced.

The former Arsenal striker moves to France on a short-term deal from OL Reign in the United States.

The 34-year-old who has also had spells in Australia, Sweden, Canada and the USA will join fellow Lionesses Lucy Bronze, Nikita Parris and Alex Greenwood.

Lyon are currently in the Champions League and face Bayern Munich in a quarter-final in Bilbao on the 22nd August, where  Taylor will be eligible to play.

She told Lyon’s website:

“I can’t wait to play with my new team. I just finished my season with OL reign in the USA, but I kind of stay in the same family.

“I talked a lot with my English teammates like Lucy Bronze who has been at the club for a long time, and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to play for one of the best teams in the world.”

Taylor has represented her country in the last two World Cups and was the top scorer at Euro 2017.

It has been quite a journey for the Birkenhead born player, who made her debut for Tranmere Rovers in 2002 at the age of 15. She scored in a 5-1 win over Wolves in the FA Women’s Cup fifth round and has never looked back since.

When Tranmere were relegated in 2004 Jodie accepted a four-year scholarship to Oregon State University. When she left Tranmere, she had an impressive record of 29 goals in 38 appearances, despite missing six months with a broken leg.

After playing for a host of sides in the States, she returned to England in 2011 and signed for Birmingham City but moved on to Lincoln Ladies on loan. Lincoln wanted to keep Taylor but she returned to her parent club Birmingham following a stint with Melbourne Victory.

Following spells with Sydney FC, Washington Spirit and Portland Thorns FC she joined Arsenal where she made twelve appearances for the North London Side.

Less than two years later Taylor left Arsenal to sign for Melbourne City on a short-term contract. OL Reign came in for her services in 2018 where she spent two years in America having made 22 appearances and scoring nine goals.

On the international front Taylor made her debut for England in August 2014 in the sides 4-0 friendly win over Sweden at Hartlepool. At the Euros in 2017 she won the highly acclaimed award of the Golden Boot with five goals in the tournament as England reached the semi-finals.

JT