We return from the February international break with a bang as we take on Chelsea in the Vitality Women's FA Cup.
After a rotated side comfortably dispatched Leeds United Women 9-0 in the fourth round, a clash with the reigning champions presents a radically different challenge for our Gunners away at Kingsmeadow.
Last time around
Our last meeting with Chelsea came in January as we hosted the Women's Super League clash at Emirates Stadium. An impressive display from our Gunners and a sweetly-struck penalty from captain Kim Little seemed to be enough to grant us a victory over our London rivals, but a dramatic Sam Kerr header in the dying minutes meant the match ended 1-1.
Throughout the 2021/22 WSL season, we were unbeaten against the Blues - winning 3-2 at home and drawing 0-0 at Kingsmeadow. After this fifth-round clash, we are set to face Chelsea once again in the Conti Cup final on March 5 at Selhurst Park.
A historic competition
Chelsea have lifted the Vitality Women's FA Cup trophy four times in their history, with two of those victories coming in 2021 and 2022. Yet, with 14 historic wins, no club has won the FA Cup more times than we have.
Our form last season against the Blues did not extend to the FA Cup, as they knocked us out of the competition at the semi-final stage last year. Our Gunners have a point to prove against Chelsea in the competition as December 2021 also saw us beaten by them at Wembley in the delayed 2021 FA Cup Final.
How to watch
We kick off at Kingsmeadow against our London rivals at 2pm UK. Live coverage on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer begins at 1.45pm.
Beth Mead, Vivianne Miedema and Teyah Goldie remain on the sidelines as they recover from ACL injuries. Lina Hurtig and Sabrina D'Angelo are also doubts after picking up injuries on international duty.
What the managers say
Eidevall on Chelsea:
“I’ve said it before, I think it’s much more in these games about trying to create as many situations as possible that are favourable for your team. It’s so easy when you play good teams like Chelsea to focus on what they’re doing well and their strengths and try to nullify them in those moments and situations, but the best way to play is to make sure those situations never happen at all."
Hayes on player availability:
‘They are all flying in from everywhere and I see them as human beings. [After] long haul flights they are not going to be at their best immediately and then they have to perform two days later. You have to give them the maximum amount of time to recover. That’s why you prepare squads which are going to be ready for the whole season.'
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