- Chelsea are the reigning Continental Cup champions, and will attempt to defend their crown against Bristol City | Ross Kinnaird
Chelsea takes on Bristol City in the Women’s Continental Cup final on Sunday, with the first trophy of the 2020/21 season on the line.
Chelsea are the defending champions, having won the competition as part of their league and cup double in the 2019/20 season. This is Bristol’s first appearance in a big final since the FA Cup final in 2013.
The match will begin at 14:30 (GMT) and will be broadcast on BT Sport 2. Here’s what to keep an eye out for ahead of the match.
- CHELSEA VYING TO REPLICATE ARSENAL
Chelsea enters the final as the reigning Continental Cup holders, hoping to become just the second side in the competition’s history to defend the trophy.
Chelsea beat Arsenal in last season’s final with a dramatic late Beth England winner, and the Blues are attempting to duplicate the feat against their London rivals.
The Gunners are the only team to have successfully defended the Continental Cup, having done so in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
2. MATT BEARD MAKES HISTORY:
When Bristol City manager Matt Beard leads his team out at Vicarage Road on Sunday, he will make history as the first manager to take charge of a domestic cup final while on maternity leave.
Tanya Oxtoby is currently on maternity leave, but the former West Ham manager is in temporary charge of the Robins.
Beard led Bristol past Leicester in the semi-finals after Oxtoby guided the Robins through the competition’s group stages and quarter-finals.
3. GULF IN CLASS
Bristol goes into the fixture as huge underdogs. In the last four league meetings between the pair, Chelsea has scored 24 goals (an average of six goals per game) and conceded just once.
The Blues beat Bristol 9-0 in September – with nine different goal scorers – before Fran Kirby netted a brace in a 5-0 win in February.
Victory for Bristol would undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest shocks in women’s cup final history.
4. BRISTOL ARE DANGEROUS ON THE COUNTER ATTACK
Bristol, despite being underdogs, poses a challenge going forward and can be deadly on the counter.
Ebony Salmon’s pace, anticipation, and goal-scoring instinct have created all manner of problems for opponents this season, with 10 goals in all tournaments, including four in the Continental Cup.
Chelsea have the best defensive record in the WSL, but did show themselves to be vulnerable to a bit of pace in behind during their Champions League last 16 first leg victory over Atletico Madrid. Sophie Ingle saw red for bringing down Rasheedat Ajibade inside 20 minutes as the Atletico striker got goal side and scampered in behind the Blues backline, suggesting there could be something there for Bristol and Salmon to exploit.
5. CHELSEA’S STACKED SQUAD CONTENDING WITH FIXTURE CONGESTION
Chelsea has one of the most talented and loaded teams in the WSL, making them heavy favourites for the match on Sunday.
Chelsea also played six players in each of their last three games, including forwards Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder. Due to a concussion, Beth England, a fellow forward and last year’s Continental Cup final hero, will miss the clash, while Erin Cuthbert and Magdalena Eriksson return from injury.
It could be a slight consolation for Bristol, but Chelsea’s phenomenal squad is at its most strained this season.
6. MATT BEARD AIMING FOR FIRST FINAL VICTORY
Beard, who spent three years in the Chelsea dugout between 2009 and 2012, will play his former team on Sunday.
The 43-year-old led Chelsea to the 2012 FA Cup final, but they were defeated on penalties by Birmingham in a four-goal thriller.
Beard was then in charge of West Ham when they reached the 2019 FA Cup final, but they were eliminated by red-hot favorites Manchester City, in a similar scenario to Bristol City on Sunday.
Despite being a two-time WSL champion with Liverpool, the former Chelsea manager has never won a domestic cup match.
7. EMMA HAYES GUNNING FOR OUTRIGHT WSL MANAGERIAL SUPREMACY
Emma Hayes would definitely become the most effective boss in the WSL era if Chelsea wins on Sunday.
The Blues’ general manager has six or seven major awards to her credit, including the 2017 shortened Spring Series. With a victory in the Continental Cup final, she would have won at least seven major tournaments and eight if the Spring Series is included.
Hayes has a long way to go to catch Vic Akers’ pre-WSL 31-trophy count, but she’s on her way.