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Manchester United WFC vs. Chelsea FC Women, WSL League Cup Semifinal: Preview, team news, how to watch

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A spot to battle for the first trophy of the season is on the line

Chelsea v Manchester United - Barclays FA Women’s Super League - The Cherry Red Records Stadium Photo by Tess Derry/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

The WSL League Cup — or Continental Cup, or Conti Cup — starts in group stages then progresses from there. Chelsea topped Group D, which included Reading, West Ham, Tottenham, Crystal Palace and Lewes. The Blues’ only stumble was a 1-1 draw that became a 4-2 loss on penalties to Reading, but it was the final match of the group and the top slot was already secured.

October’s defeat of WSL title-challengers Manchester City put United atop Group C.

After no surprises in the quarterfinal round (Chelsea beat Aston Villa 3-1, United defeated Brighton 2-1) we now have some tasty semifinals: United vs. Chelsea and Arsenal vs. City.

Date / Time: TODAY; 7:30pm GMT; 2:30pm EST; 1am IST

Venue: Leigh Sports Stadium

Forecast: Cloudy, 47°F/9°C

How to watch: The FA Player is — finally — your home for some sweet League Cup action.

Chelsea team news: Remember Sam Kerr? How about Ji So-yun? Well due to Olympic qualifying neither of them are with Chelsea, and are instead with their national teams, Australia and South Korea, respectively. They’ll be with them through qualifying, which will last at least through another clash with United, this time in the league, on 9 February.

Chelsea are a very deep squad but those are two huge missing pieces, one they’ve been playing most of the season without (Kerr, who arrived in January) and one they’ve desperately relied on (Ji). With no status update on Fran Kirby, who continues to recover from a nasty virus, and Ramona Bachmann needing to be subbed off in the first half of Sunday’s opening FA Cup match against Charlton, the remaining Blues have quite a lot of slack to pick up.

Emma Hayes does have one new addition to call on in Jamie-Lee Napier. The teenager has already shown flashes of the skill that prompted Chelsea to bring her in last month, and current squad absences could give her an opportunity to further impress.

United team news: United have no such worrisome absences as their top scorers, Katie Zelem and Lauren James (yes, Reece’s sister), are both from England.

United have been up and down all season, epitomized by the randomness of their defeats: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City all barely escaped the Red Devils with 1-0 wins (every goal scored in the second half), while their other two losses are to West Ham and Bristol City.

Basically, when they’re up for it, they aren’t far behind the dominant clubs in the league.

Previously: Fran Kirby was hacked down in the box and Maren Mjelde scored the only goal of a hard-fought match.

Sauce Moment of the Week: I don’t know how you’re living your life but I’m still watching Sophie Ingle’s strike versus Arsenal (which made it 3-0 after twenty minutes) every day.