Continental Cup quarter-final preview: Four things to look out for

Ali Rampling
The Continental Cup quarter-finals take place on Wednesday and Thursday
The Continental Cup quarter-finals take place on Wednesday and Thursday / Clive Rose/GettyImages

The Continental Cup quarter-finals take place across Wednesday and Thursday, with four intriguing ties to look forward to.

Arsenal and Chelsea have entered the competition following the conclusion of the group stages, and they join the current Conti Cup holders, one plucky Championship underdog and a selection of other WSL sides in the last eight.

Here's everything to look out for in the Continental Cup quarter finals.

Is this Manchester City's best hope of silverware?

Steph Houghton, Ellen White
City are the reigning Conti Cup champions / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

The Continental Cup final was one of the highlights of Man City's 2021/22 campaign, coming from a goal down at the break to turn in an electric second half performance against an all conquering Chelsea - who at the time held all three domestic honours - and running out 3-1 winners.

After exiting the Champions League before the group stages and slipping up against Aston Villa at the weekend to leave them five points behind WSL leaders Manchester United, retaining the Continental Cup could be Man City's most realistic chance of silverware this term.

It is a competition in which the Sky Blues have a proud history. Their 2014 Conti Cup triumph was the first major trophy success for the women's team, while the 2022 victory was a real moment of celebration for Gareth Taylor's side after such a tough first half of the season.

City have been handed the kindest draw of the round with a trip to Bristol City - the only Championship team left standing. The Vixens have enjoyed a strong campaign so far, losing just twice in 14 in all competitions. The two sides met at the same stage of the competition last season, with City running out 3-1 winners.

Bristol City vs Manchester City

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January, 19:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Ashton Gate
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

The Matt Beard derby

Matt Beard
Matt Beard has managed both Liverpool and West Ham / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

The second quarter-final sees Matt Beard's current side Liverpool welcome his former side West Ham to Prenton Park.

Having won two WSL titles with Liverpool, Beard then spent two and a half years at West Ham, navigating the club through their debut seasons in the WSL. He then returned to Liverpool in 2021 to guide the club back to the top flight.

Liverpool vs West Ham is a fixture teeming with reunions; from Hammers boss Paul Konchesky, who had a one year spell on Merseyside as a player, to West Ham's Kate Longhurst, who won back-to-back WSL titles with Beard at Liverpool in 2013 and 2014.

Liverpool vs West Ham

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Prenton Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

Bethany England faces former side Chelsea

Bethany England
England could face former side Chelsea on Wednesday / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

Just three weeks on from calling time on her seven-year spell at Chelsea to join London rivals Tottenham, Bethany England will be reunited with her former teammates in just her second game for her new club.

England won seven major trophies with the Blues, playing a particularly crucial role in their 2019/20 WSL triumph, and hitting a match-winning brace as they secured their maiden Continental Cup title that same year.

The forward's game time was reduced by the 2020 signing of Sam Kerr, and she subsequently moved to Spurs for a reported record fee between two WSL clubs - although Rehanne Skinner later played down the figure. England marked her maiden appearance for her new club with a debut goal.

"Beth is a top player," Emma Hayes said following the sale of the striker. "Every one of my players are too good to sit on the bench. Finding the right time for a player and club to move in another direction isn't always as simple as: we'll do it in June, or whatever. It was the right time for us and it was the right time for her."

Tottenham vs Chelsea

When is kick off? Wednesday 25 January 19:45 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Brisbane Road
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)

Jordan Nobbs returns to Arsenal

Jordan Nobbs
Jordan Nobbs could return to Meadow Park on Thursday / Julian Finney/GettyImages

To cap off four quarter-final ties full of reunions is perhaps the most highly-anticipated of them all, as Jordan Nobbs faces her former side Arsenal three weeks after calling time on her 12 and a half years with the club to join Aston Villa.

The midfielder won every domestic trophy there was to win with the Gunners and will go down as one of the club's and WSL's all-time top midfielders. However, she saw her game time limited this term, and opted to move to Aston Villa to put herself in the best possible position for selection ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

Nobbs has taken quickly to life at Villa, helping her new side to four points from her first two appearances and quickly building up a strong midfield partnership with Kenza Dali.

"Her service has been so excellent," Jonas Eidevall said following the departure of Nobbs. "From a squad perspective, I would have liked to have kept her but we wanted to show respect to the history she has with the club.”

Arsenal vs Aston Villa

When is kick off? Thursday 26 January, 19:30 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Meadow Park
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK, international)