Manchester City Women have been dethroned as League Cup champions by Chelsea. Emma Hayes’ led squad defeated Arsenal 2-1 on Saturday to win the first trophy of the season. It was a keenly contested final that saw the Blues emerge victorious through Beth England’s second goal of the game that came at the death.
Arsenal, who defeated City on the way to the final gave a good fight. But the team was overcome in the end by a more determined Chelsea side brimming with quality. The Gunners came into the game missing a number of players, and were dealt a further blow as Jen Beattie was ruled out prior to the meeting having suffered concussion last week.
Chelsea came out firing in the early exchanges and soon had a chance to go ahead. Viki Schnaderbeck made a last-ditch block to deny Beth England. But confusion in the Arsenal defence following a cross soon after allowed the ball to sit in the penalty box, and England pounced to draw first blood just eight minutes in.
Arsenal responded well to the setback dominating the game from then on. The Gunners created the best chances and looked dangerous from set pieces, although Chelsea constantly threatened on the break. The relentless pressure finally paid off late in the game as Leah Williamson finally got Arsenal’s goal. She fired the ball in after a bit of pinball from a corner and it was game on.
But it was the Blues that had the last laugh deep into added time. England ghosted in behind Lisa Evans in the 92nd minute to tap home the winner from a cross to break Arsenal’s hearts.
Chelsea’s first Conti Cup trophy win is a sign the balance of power in the women’s game is shifting in England. The Blues have not lost a match all season in the Women’s Super League. That’s despite facing main rivals Arsenal and Man City home and away. For now the WSL is theirs for the taking, while also making progress in the FA Women’s Cup. The London side could end up with a clean sweep of silverware this term unless City and Arsenal step up or the side capitulates in the final stages of the campaign.
Hoepefully, CIty can improve and learn from this to claim the league title.