The last time Everton won the prestigious competition, Natasha Dowie was scoring the go-ahead goal in the 119th minute to break the hearts of Arsenal players and fans alike. After winning the competition in 2010, Everton have qualified only once for the final, finishing as runners-up to, coincidentally, Arsenal in 2014. Toffee fans will recognize several names from the team that was handed defeat six years ago, as Danielle Turner and Gabby George both started the match, while Simone Magill was subbed on in the 71st minute.
Manchester City, who are the current FA Cup Champions, have enjoyed recent success in the competition, winning twice in the past three years (2017 and 2019). In the 2017 Final, City eased to a 4–1 victory over Birmingham. And last season, a spirited West Ham bunch failed to challenge the Citizens in a 3–1 victory for Gareth Taylor’s side.
| “We are breeding a group of winners and Sunday can be a launchpad for success in the next five years."— Everton Women (@EvertonWomen) October 29, 2020
️ @WillieKirk on why Sunday's #WomensFACup final represents a significant juncture on his team’s path to consistently competing for silverware...
The Blues and Citizens are each coming off of disappointing results, for their standards, in league play. Everton’s most recent result was a 2–2 home draw to Brighton — three points were lost when Brighton leveled in the 78th minute. City, on the other hand, tied Reading 1–1, despite holding 67-percent possession and having nine shots on target to Reading’s two. After five league matches, Everton are in second place with 13 points, while City sit in fifth with eight.
Both teams are loaded with talent, as Everton boast a back line that has conceded only five times in eight games across all competitions and is led by England goalkeeper Sandy MacIver and Danish superstar Rikke Sevecke. In midfield, watch for Lucy Graham, who has six goals in all competitions, and Lioness stalwart Izzy Christiansen to link up with Nicoline Sørensen and Hayley Raso on the wings. As always, Everton’s attack will be led by either Valérie Gauvin or Magill — both clinical strikers.
Moving east, City have one of the strongest defensive crops in the league, with Gemma Bonner, Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton and Demi Stokes — essentially the starting back four for England. Sam Mewis has become a mainstay in City’s mega-talented midfield, and former Blue Kelly has been lethal on the wing — three league goals.
With two star-studded casts, Sunday’s theater will be a drama fit for even the most enthusiastic Shakespeare aficionado. Come 11:30 a.m. ET/4:30 p.m. BST, we’ll have either a back-to-back champion or a team ending a ten-year drought hoisting the trophy at Wembley.
Sunday’s contest will be the second match between the two teams of this fledgling season. Being placed in the same group for the Continental Cup, Everton and City met in the competition’s opening fixture on October 7.
A 3–1 loss was Everton’s first result other than a win at that point in the season, with Manchester City coming back from an early 1–0 deficit. While a 3–1 scoreline may paint a dismal picture of the Toffee’s performance, the defeat was not as straightforward as, “Everton played poorly.” Granted, Willie Kirk’s side weren’t as sharp as usual, giving the ball away and committing reckless challenges, but analyze the affair a bit deeper and the result is understandable.
Everton’s meteoric rise up the table early in the season has a lot to do with the formation they utilize, a 4-2-3-1. This formation gives the team incredible balance, allowing for the fullbacks and wingers to link-up in the channels. Everton’s midfield is difficult to break down, and possession flows from the defense through the midfield and up to the forwards.
Against City, Kirk experimented with a 3-4-3, a decision that left the defense horribly exposed to the speed of City’s wingers. The midfield didn’t do enough to help on the wings or on defense, as the back three struggled to deal with the likes of Chloe Kelly and Jess Park.
Despite scoring an early goal —Turner saw the ball drop to her feet inside the six — in the 20th minute, City managed to level in the 51st, taking the lead in the 71st. A 2–1 result would have been just, but Park scored a sublime, if not partially fortunate, goal in the 92nd to give City three goals. Take away an unfamiliar formation plus a late goal and Everton very well might have won that match.
Competition: FA Women’s Cup Final
Date and start time: Sunday, November 1st at 9:30 a.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. BST
Stadium: Wembley Stadium, London, England, United Kingdom
Capacity: 90,000 (behind closed doors)
How to Watch/Listen
TV & Radio: BBC One
Match Centre: evertontv
Live stream: BT Sport App, ESPN+