Women's Football

Continental Cup: Chelsea & Manchester City reignite rivalry in final for first time

Ali Rampling
Chelsea and Manchester City will face off in a cup final for the first time on Saturday
Chelsea and Manchester City will face off in a cup final for the first time on Saturday / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Chelsea and Manchester have been locking horns at the top of the women's game for the past six years.

The pair have taken it in turns to raise the bar in terms of professionalism, resources and transfers, with the other subsequently following suit.

You sign Sam Kerr? We'll sign two World Cup winners. You sign two World Cup winners? We'll break the women's transfer record to sign Pernille Harder.

"I really respect them (City) as a football club and what they've done for women's football," Emma Hayes said ahead of the clash. "I think they've come into the game and helped raise the profile along with us - and that's not to take anything away from Arsenal and the years that they've been doing it - but as two relative new comers in the game I think we've sat side by side on and off the pitch.

"I know there's a lot of collaboration especially off the pitch to make sure we each help each other drive and I've always valued that relationship."

The pair's competitive relationship has paid off in spades. Combined, Manchester City and Chelsea have won four of the last five WSL titles, six of the last seven FA Cups and four of the last five Continental Cups.

Chelsea have pipped Manchester City to the WSL title in the last two seasons, winning the 2020/21 trophy by virtue of points per game, and the 2021/22 title by just two points.

The 2020/21 title effectively ended up being settled by the epic 3-3 draw the two sides played out at the Academy Stadium in February - the final league match before Covid-19 curtailed the season. Wonder goals, swinging moment and penalty saves, the fixture had everything, and will go down as one of the greatest in WSL history.

It is one of many classic encounters City and Chelsea have provided over the years, but Saturday's Continental Cup final marks the first time the pair will have met in a cup final.

"I particularly like the Man City games," Hayes added. "This is a game that both teams love to play. Maybe because in the last six, seven years in particular, it's been so closely contested. Like there's zero to separate.

"There's going to be a real intrigue internally for both teams. We've had epic cup games over the years but to play in a final I think both teams really wanted. We really wanted each other in the final and we got our wish."

The final takes place at AFC Wimbledon's Plough Lane - just five miles and two buses away from Chelsea's Kingsmeadow home.

"It's a bit strange the location if I'm honest," said Gareth Taylor. "But this was decided a long time ago. It was Watford last season and now we've gone right in to central London so we seem to be getting closer. We probably couldn't be any closer to Chelsea without playing at Chelsea but the venue was set a long time ago and the fact of the matter is it's a neutral venue."

With a sell out crowd expected at Plough Lane, a blockbuster encounter is in store as two of English footballs powerhouses lock horns in a cup final for the first time.