Manchester City Women face Birmingham City Ladies in the Continental Tyres Cup Final at the Academy Stadium.
City can win their second trophy in seven days to complete a historic domestic double after being crowned WSL 1 champions for the first time last Sunday.
The two sides last met in April where Birmingham made City work hard for their 2-0 victory. Given that Birmingham now have a settled squad, they’ll be looking to put in an even better performance and will believe they can frustrate City and cause some problems, especially with the fixture following their excellent 2-1 win over Liverpool Ladies.
City have done quite well against Birmingham in recent meetings and will be hoping for their 4th win over Birmingham in 6 games. A repeat of City’s 2-0 win, especially another clean sheet, would be much welcomed by the Blues.
Controversially, City have home advantage. The hosting of the final was awarded to Manchester City after all WSL clubs were invited by the FA to apply, but not all clubs did. Crucially, the decision was made by the FA before the draw for the quarter-finals had even taken place, so City’s presence in the final was far from guaranteed, however that didn’t stop people talking as if they already had one hand on the trophy.
The main gripe stems from the fact that the final isn’t being hosted at a neutral ground. Of course it always should be, the FA got it wrong this time, but certainly some stomped their feet more than they would have done if the fixture was taking place at Birmingham’s ground instead of City’s, presumably because playing at home wouldn’t give Birmingham any real advantage. In any case, the Academy Stadium has better transport links and facilities than any of the other grounds that could have been chosen, so based on the FA’s selection criteria, it’s no wonder that it was chosen to host the final.
The only expected change to the City team that beat Chelsea Ladies comes at the back, with Marie Hourihan coming in for Karen Bardsley. Manager Nick Cushing handed Hourihan the starting shirt for the Continental Tyres Cup games at the beginning of the season, and Hourihan has repaid Cushing’s faith by conceding just one goal in the competition so far.
City Player to Watch: Toni Duggan.
Duggan was City’s driving force in the 2-0 victory over Chelsea Ladies last weekend and was City’s most threatening player in large parts of the game, scoring City’s second of the afternoon from the penalty spot. She loves to carry the ball up the wing, cut inside and shoot and has scored some screamers in past seasons doing just that. Duggan hasn’t scored many this season but will be looking to end the season on a personal high, so expect her to be among the goals or thereabouts.
Predicted City Women line-up:
Score Prediction: Birmingham City Ladies 0 – 2 Manchester City Women.
KO: 2nd October 2016, 3:00PM, Academy Stadium.
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Written by Jill Peacock