Conti Cup Final: 2023 Bumper Preview
London giants Arsenal and Chelsea face off in the Conti Cup final, here's all you need to know
4 March 2023
The 2023 FA Women’s League Cup (Conti Cup) final takes place at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park on Sunday 5th March (kick off 3pm GMT) between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea. Arsenal have won the Conti Cup a record five times whilst Chelsea are two times winners. This will be the West London sides fourth appearance in a row in the showpiece event.
For the Gunners, it is the first time since 2020 they have reached the final. Arsenal will be looking to win their first silverware since 2019. In the last four years, Chelsea have won eight trophies. The final is a 24,000 sell out, so it looks like the record attendance set of last year of 8,004 for the final and competition is going to be broken!
Here is our guide to the final including information about how Arsenal and Chelsea reached Selhurst Park, the two squads, the stadium and transport, and TV/radio coverage.
How they got to the final
Both sides didn’t enter the Conti Cup until the quarter-final stage due to playing in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. In the last eight, Chelsea travelled to Tottenham Hotspur where they won 3-1. Sam Kerr scored twice and Fran Kirby got the other for the Blues. They faced another London derby in the semi-final when they were drawn to play West Ham United away. The side from West London won 7-0 with Kerr scoring four this time. The other goals were scored by Kirby, Lauren James and Guro Reiten.
Arsenal have had two home ties at Meadow Park as they reached the final. In the quarter-finals, they beat Aston Villa 3-0. Frida Leonhardsen Maanum was the star of the show and scored twice with Caitlin Foord getting the other goal. In the semi-final they took on holders Manchester City and with the scores being level at 0-0 after 90 minutes, the match went to extra-time. Stina Blackstenius scored the only goal in the 93rd minute for the Gunners as they won 1-0.
The sides have faced each other twice this season already. In January, they drew 1-1 at the Emirates Stadium in the WSL. Kim Little opened the scoring from the penalty spot for Arsenal before Sam Kerr scored a late equaliser for Chelsea. They played each other in the FA Cup fifth round last weekend at Kingsmeadow. Chelsea won that tie 2-0 with Sophie Ingle and Kerr scoring the goals.
In the Conti Cup, there have been five meetings between the sides with Arsenal winning three of them and Chelsea two. Their only previous meeting in the final of this competition was in 2020 which Chelsea won 2-1 thanks to Bethany England’s late winner.
Arsenal normally play in a 4-3-3 formation but head coach Jonas Eidevall did change to 3-4-3 in two recent games against Manchester City. Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema are both unavailable due to long-term injuries, and Gio is cup-tied after playing for Everton earlier in the season in the Conti Cup. Eidevall confirmed in his pre-final press conference that no other players are ready to return yet so this probably rules out Teyah Goldie.
In goal, Manuela Zinsberger has been number one for most of this season but January signing Sabrina D’Angelo has played in both Conti Cup games. D’Angelo picked up an injury whilst on international duty with Canada recently and Eidevall said on Friday that she is progressing but not sure whether she’ll be available. Kaylan Marckese is another goalkeeper that can be called upon.
Noelle Maritz or Laura Wienroither normally play on the right side of defence for the Gunners. In central defence, it will probably be two from Leah Williamson, Rafaelle, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Jen Beattie. Both Steph Catley and Katie McCabe can play on the left side of the back four.
Lia Walti normally plays in the defensive midfield role though Williamson can also play in this position. Captain and penalty specialist Kim Little plays a bit further forward in the middle of the pitch, and Frida Leonhardsen Maanum has been playing as an attacking midfielder recently. Two January signings, Victoria Pelova and Kathrine Khul, are other midfielders that could be involved in the final.
From those available, the attacking wide positions are normally filled by Lina Hurtig (who Eidevall confirmed is in contention after a recent injury), Caitlin Foord and McCabe. Stina Blackstenius normally plays in the centre furthest forward though Foord can also play here. Youngster Michelle Agyemang can also play in attacking roles.
Emma Hayes has typically lined Chelsea up in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Hayes confirmed in her pre-final press conference on Friday that “the same number of players are available this week as last week”. Pernille Harder, Katerina Svitkova and Fran Kirby will all miss the final with injuries.
There doesn’t seem to be a number one goalkeeper with both Zecira Musovic and Ann-Katrin Berger starting a fair share of games each. Emily Orman is another goalkeeper in the squad.
Eve Perisset is a regular starter at right back. The two central defenders could come from Millie Bright, Kadeisha Buchanan and captain Magdalena Eriksson. Eriksson has also been a frequent starter at left back this season. Chelsea have a couple of versatile defenders with Jess Carter who can play anywhere across the back and Niamh Charles who can play in either full back position. Other defenders that might be involved include Maren Mjelde (can also play in midfield) and Alsu Abdullina.
In midfield, Sophie Ingle normally occupies the defensive position while Erin Cuthbert always seems to be everywhere. With Fran Kirby injured, Jelena Cankovic played in the attacking midfield position last week. Melanie Leupolz and Jessie Fleming are other players who could feature in midfield for the Blues.
The attacking three normally consists of Lauren James, who was recently Player of the Tournament in the Arnold Clark Cup after her performances for the Lionesses, and Guro Reiten in the wide positions with Sam Kerr furthest forward. Kerr may have only played two games in this season’s Conti Cup so far but is already top scorer in the competition with six goals, and has also scored in the last two finals. Johanna Rytting Kaneryd is an alternative for James and Reiten.
Selhurst Park Stadium is in South London, just north of Croydon. The stadium opened in 1924 and has been the home of Crystal Palace FC ever since. The current Main Stand was designed by Archibald Leitch and opened at the same time as the ground. The stadium hosted two football matches during the 1948 Summer Olympics. Two clubs, Charlton Athletic FC and Wimbledon FC, had spells groundsharing at Selhurst Park between 1985 and 2003. The Women’s FA Cup final was held here in 2001, 2002 and 2003 but this will be the first time the Conti Cup final has taken place at this stadium.
Selhurst Park consists of four separate stands. They are the Main Stand, Holmesdale Road Stand (Arsenal end), Arthur Wait Stand and Whitehorse Lane Stand (Chelsea end). The capacity of the ground is 25,486. Turnstiles into the stadium open at 1pm, two hours before kick-off. Bags small enough to fit under seats can be taken in but will be searched. The stadium is cashless so only debit/credit card payments are accepted for food/drink inside it. Programmes will be available to buy from outlets around the stadium.
It is encouraged supporters travel by public transport. The closest railway stations to the stadium are Norwood Junction (due to engineering works will only be served by a replacement bus on Sunday), Thornton Heath and Selhurst which are all about a 10/15 minute walk from the stadium. The latter two are served by trains from central London (Victoria station), Clapham Junction and Croydon. A number of bus routes pass close to the ground including the numbers 50, 75, 130, 157, 198 and 468.
There is no spectator parking available at the ground. There is limited parking for accessible users only which must be prebooked. Several residential streets surrounding the stadium are now permitted to permit holders only so check if parking nearby. Free cycle parking is provide on-site from three hours before kick-off. Head to the CPFC Information Point (Entrance 9) for bicycle parking instructions.
The fan zone will be open from midday in the main car park by entrance 10.
The referee for the final is Kirsty Dowle and she will be assisted by Ceri Williams and Sophie Dennington. The fourth official is Lou Saunders and Abby Dearden is the reserve assistant referee.
In the UK, the final will be shown live on BBC One/Sport Website/iPlayer with coverage starting at 2:25pm (GMT). There is live radio commentary of the final on talkSPORT 2. Their coverage starts at 2pm (GMT). Outside of the UK, it will also be available to watch live on the FA Player.