The Stage Is Set for the FA Cup Final

After an exciting weekend, the favorites emerge victorious.

By: Alexandra Cadet

It’s official: Chelsea and Manchester City will face off in the FA Cup final. This development comes after an exciting weekend of football, packed with high-tempo pressing and long-range goals to spare. Fans might find it frustrating to face a weeks-long wait for the resumption of the Cup on May 15th, but on the bright side, we now have plenty of time to talk about everything that went down on Saturday and Sunday––as well as what to expect from the title game.

 Ellen White heads in the opening goal against West Ham United. (Photo courtesy of The Guardian)

The Citizens Keep On Trucking

City entered this semi-final matchup with three dominant tournament wins under their belt, including an 8–0 trouncing of Nottingham Forest. Initially, it was unclear whether this match would become win number four; the Hammers pressured the visitors early on via chances for Adriana Leon and Dagný Brynjarsdóttir. But once Ellen White headed in the rebound of a Keira Walsh long shot, the Citizens found their groove. 

To their credit, West Ham didn’t surrender in the wake of White’s go-ahead. They continued to press high and exploit the gaps in City’s defense, even after an unfortunate passing error that led to a Chloe Kelly goal. These efforts were eventually vindicated; Leon fed a lovely through-ball to Lisa Evans, giving the Hammers a sliver of hope for the remaining 45 minutes. But there was no stopping the Citizens––or Lauren Hemp, for that matter. She added her two cents via a second-half brace, deciding the match and sending Man City through to the final at Wembley. 

City will have to wait until May to play the last match of the tournament. This is the fourth time they’ve reached the final in the past six seasons.

Football: A Game of Inches

We now know that City will face defending champions Chelsea in the title game, thanks to their 2–0 triumph over Arsenal on Sunday. London derbies are often a bit of a wild card, and this match was no different. After a cagey first half, during which the Gunners struggled to capitalize on their chances, the party finally got started thanks to a jaw-dropping worldie from Guro Reiten in the 50th minute. All that was left for the Blues to do was close up shop in the back…and have Ji So-yun bang in a shot from off the crossbar. Check and check. 

When they look back on this match, Arsenal will understandably rue their missed chances––as well as the acres of space they allowed Reiten during that first goal. “I think all the goals we give away and the chances we give away were mistakes that we make ourselves. I didn’t think Chelsea were particularly great today. We just made it complicated for ourselves.” said Vivianne Miedema after the proceedings were over. Miedema’s not wrong; Chelsea took a little while to settle into the match. However, football is a game of inches, whether they’re away from the post or between a leaky defense. Arsenal have loads of talent, but those inches cost them on Sunday.

All Eyes on Wembley

Now that the semis are done and dusted, all eyes are on Wembley from now until the 15th. City will feel confident heading into the match, since they’ve won every FA Cup final they’ve contested. But once again, football is a game of inches, and anything can happen on the field. Let’s just hope that whatever happens will be as fun to watch as the semis.

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