‘Remarkable’ Shaw comparable to Haaland – Taylor

Venue: The Dripping Pan Date: Sunday, 19 March Time: 12:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

The women’s FA Cup is approaching its climax, with the quarter-finals taking place this Sunday.

Six Women’s Super League sides remain in the competition, while Championship outfits Lewes and Birmingham City are looking to cause major upsets.

A repeat of last year’s final, when Chelsea defeated Manchester City after extra time, remains possible – but there could also be a brand new name on the trophy.

Here are five things to look out for ahead of the weekend’s games…

Can Villa break through?

Since Birmingham’s triumph in 2012, the women’s FA Cup has been shared between the WSL big three of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City.

However, Aston Villa could be a strong candidate to break that stranglehold. Carla Ward’s side, who have never won the competition, are fifth in the WSL with Rachel Daly scoring for fun up front.

They face City, who they have taken four points off in the league this season, and Ward says they are confident of another victory.

“It shows we can compete and I think that’s really important,” she said of the league results. “We’ll be looking to go there and hopefully cause an upset.

“It would be an upset. We’ve taken four points from them but it would be an upset.”

Shaw = Haaland?

While Daly has impressed for Villa, she has had nothing on City striker Khadija Shaw, who has struck an incredible 26 goals in just 22 games across all competitions.

Shaw’s strike rate – which has included City’s five most recent goals across wins over Tottenham and Brighton – has drawn comparisons with another strong, tall forward in sky blue with a remarkable scoring record.

Asked about comparisons with Erling Haaland, City manager Gareth Taylor said: “The consistency of being there, scoring braces and trebles, it is pretty remarkable.

“These players are so mentally strong, they are able to go again because they know they will get opportunities.

“I’ve always found that with the best players, they can brush off disappointments very quickly, that is something which is overlooked a little bit – that bravery to get the ball when not playing well, to make the difference.”

Merricks ‘enjoying’ Brighton role

Amy Merricks

Serving in her second stint as caretaker, Brighton boss Amy Merricks has overseen two defeats so far since stepping in following the short reign of Jens Scheuer.

However, the losses came against Chelsea and City, with both featuring much improved displays – City were reliant on a last-minute Shaw goal for all three points.

A win at second division Birmingham would earn Brighton a second FA Cup semi-final in three years, and boost Merricks’ chances of the full time position.

She said when asked how long she will be at the Brighton helm: “Who knows? I’m enjoying the challenge, getting to know players and staff a bit more. I have ambitions to be a head coach at some point, so this opportunity is really exciting.”

Reading aim to give Chelsea the blues

Chelsea are targeting a hat-trick of women’s FA Cup titles, and travel to Reading on Sunday as heavy favourites.

However, while Reading sit second-bottom of the WSL and were thumped 4-0 at Arsenal last Sunday, they did give Chelsea an almighty scare in their 3-2 league loss last November, scoring two goals in as many second-half minutes.

“It’s what the FA Cup is all about, playing against the top teams, in a one-off match and it’s one we’re really excited for,” Royals manager Kelly Chambers said.

“With an exception to last week, we like to raise our games against the top teams, and we’re ready to bounce back from Arsenal.”

Man Utd continue double quest

On paper, the biggest women’s FA Cup mismatch of the weekend sees Lewes, seventh in the Championship, host the team currently second in the WSL, Manchester United.

United, who have never won a major women’s trophy, are firmly in the hunt for a domestic double – and manager Marc Skinner promised no let up in their pursuit.

“We have fully prepared for Lewes, looked at all their games and how they play,” he said. “We look at how we can play against them and expose them, that takes away the banana skin potential.

“The power of Lewes as a club, with their equality of pay scale,external-link and on the pitch they play really effective football. If we are not at our game, then the banana skin potential comes up. We avoid that by being really good at what we do.

“We won’t take them lightly, and they should expect the very best of us.”

BBC Sports

Read More