The first major silverware of the season will be handed out on Sunday when Chelsea face Arsenal in the Conti Cup final, already a third meeting between the clubs in 2023 alone.

Having each had Champions League commitments in the first half of the season, the Blues and the Gunners only entered the Conti Cup at the quarter-final stage.

Arsenal are this competition’s record winners, having lifted the trophy five times since its 2011 inception. But they are without a Conti Cup triumph since 2018. Chelsea, meanwhile, have won it twice – in 2020 and 2021 – as well losing last season’s final to Manchester City.

Ticket sales for this one had already exceeded 20,000 early in the week leading up to the final, well over double the record 8,004 crowd that attended last season’s final at AFC Wimbledon’s Plough Lane. There is every chance that 25,000-capacity Selhurst Park could be sold by the time kick-off comes, prompting debate over whether future finals in this competition deserve a larger venue.

Chelsea and Arsenal met in the FA Cup as recently as last weekend, with the former taking a 2-0 victory and a place in the next round.

When is kick off? Sunday 5 March, 15:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Selhurst Park
TV channel/live stream? BBC One/iPlayer (UK), FA Player (International)
What time does TV coverage in the UK start? 14:25 (GMT)
Referee? Kirsty Dowle

Emma Hayes has confirmed that everyone who played in last week’s FA Cup win is available.

The loss of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema to ACL injuries towards the end of last year will be particularly felt here.

Lina Hurtig and Sabrina D’Angelo could return to the fold but a decision will be made at the last minute by Jonas Eidevall.

Chelsea are a winning machine more than ever under Emma Hayes. Having lost last season’s final against Manchester City when they were favourites, they are unlikely to let a similar slip-up repeat.

For Arsenal, 2023 has been tough so far. There have been a few decent cup results, excluding last weekend, but the Gunners have dropped points in all three WSL games they have played since the winter break – that threatens to derail the bread and butter of their season.

The ACL injuries suffered by chief goal threats Mead and Miedema are obviously massive blows that would hinder any team. But even with top international talents still available to them, Arsenal have looked blunt and disjointed – some critics have even suggested the late January pursuit of Alessia Russo has had an unsettling effect on the squad.

Arsenal will compete as best they can, but it is difficult to look beyond Chelsea.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

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