Women’s FA Cup preview: Free-scoring Arsenal look favourites to lift the cup

League-leading Arsenal look favourites to win the cup, but first have to see off the Seagulls, while last season’s champions and runners-up go head to head for a spot in the final.

Last season's WSL champions, Chelsea, hammered Birmingham City in the quarter-finals, but face a tougher task in the shape of Manchester City, who themselves enter the clash off the back of a 6-0 win over Leicester City.

The other semi-final sees league leaders Arsenal host Hope Powell's Brighton side fresh from a 5-1 win in the north London derby.

With two blockbuster clashes on the horizon, Planet Sport takes an in-depth look at all four sides.

Manchester City vs Chelsea

Chelsea women, Champions League

The first semi-final sees last season's Super League champions travel to the runners-up.

Split by just two points last season, it was Chelsea who topped the table to win their fourth league title, and they have a chance to get one over their rivals again on Sunday afternoon.

This season, the Blues trail Arsenal by three points, with their only loss being against the Gunners in the first game of the season.

Since then, though, Emma Hayes' side have bounced back in style and have gone on an impressive run that included beating Manchester United 6-1 and Everton 4-0.

They can also take confidence from their results against City last season. In their three meetings, including one in the Continental Tyres Cup, they recorded two wins, while drawing the other 2-2.

If they are to overcome City again on Sunday, they'll be hoping for Australian striker Sam Kerr to continue her scoring streak. Kerr has scored five in five so far in the WSL, while England forward Fran Kirby has three.

Manchester City women, Women's super league

As for City, they sit down in ninth with just one win - over Everton in the opening week - to their name.

A 5-0 drubbing at Arsenal shows how much City have been off the pace this season, but an FA Cup semi-final could be the ideal place to turn around their torrid form.

England star Ellen White has struggled to get going but will be hoping her poor form is behind her after netting in City's 5-1 cup win over Everton earlier this month.

Arsenal vs Brighton

Arsenal have seen their domestic dominance dwindle in recent years, with Manchester City and Chelsea both emerging.

However, after five straight wins to start this season - scoring 19 in the process - the Gunners sit top of the WSL table.

They enter the semi-final clash in great form too. They've scored 15 in their last four games across all competitions, including a 4-0 win against Hoffenheim in the Champions League.

The Gunners have also enjoyed plenty of success in the FA Cup, having won the competition a record 14 times.

However, with their last cup success coming back in 2015/16, they'll be eager to see their name etched on the trophy once more this season.

They look as strong as ever under new head coach Jonas Eidevall, and with the incredible Vivianne Miedema in fine form with four goals in five matches in the league, they are worthy favourites to lift the cup.

However, they've first got to get past a Brighton side that have also started well with three wins interspersed with losses to Chelsea and Aston Villa.

Former England manager Hope Powell has steadily improved the Seagulls since arriving in 2017. After successive ninth-placed finishes, Brighton rose to sixth last season and now find themselves fifth after five games.

Having never won a major honour, Powell and Brighton will know what a huge opportunity awaits them on Sunday afternoon, even if they enter as massive underdogs against Arsenal.

If they are to shock the Gunners, it'll likely be through Dutch forward Inessa Kaagman. After finishing as the club's top scorer last season, Kaagman is again leading the way for the Seagulls this season with two goals and one assist in the league.

Hope Powell, Brighton, women, manager

Who is favourite to win it?

Arsenal women, Champions League, Hoffenheim, Tobin Heath

Going off current form and standings, it seems likely that Chelsea and Arsenal will meet in the FA Cup final on December 5.

The two London clubs have been the driving force of women's soccer in recent years and have clashed regularly for the WSL title.

However, the duo have only ever met in the FA Cup final twice. Their first meeting came in 2015/16, when Danielle Carter's first-half goal proved to be the winner for Arsenal.

In their 2017/18 meeting, it was Chelsea who came out on top. A second-half brace courtesy of Ramona Bachmann put them in control before Miedema pulled one back for Arsenal in the 73rd minute. However, Fran Kirby's goal three minutes later restored Chelsea's two-goal cushion and ensured it would be blue not red ribbons on the trophy.

Seeing the two frontrunners of the WSL clash at Wembley would make for fascinating viewing. But while it's bound to be a tight affair, the Gunners' early season win against Chelsea has to make them the favourites to lift the cup.

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