The 2019/20 Women's FA Cup resumes at the weekend... seven months after the last 16 ties were played. Teams progressed to the quarter final stage way back in February before coronavirus intervened and triggered over half a year of social distancing, toilet roll hoarding, various government slogans and Joe Wicks workouts.
A lot has changed in that time. Two of the remaining eight sides have had a change in manager, one has broken the transfer world record, one has signed one of the biggest name in the women's game and one has transformed to a part time outfit to a fully professional side.
Let's have a little recap of this season's competition so far and remind ourselves who the quarter finalists are.
The Story So Far
Ipswich Town Women had been the romantic underdog story of this season'c competition. The fourth-tier side, consisting predominantly of teenagers, pulled off a hat-trick of giant killings to become the lowest ranked side in the competition's history to reach the fifth round and set up a blockbuster tie with reigning cup holders Manchester City... which they lost 10-0.
Manchester City had overcome rivals United in a thrilling 3-2 affair in the previous round, with the Red Devils controversially not having a goal awarded when the ball was deemed not to have crossed the line following a scramble from a corner.
Fourth-tier Billericay Town came within a whisker of pulling off the FA Cup shock of the season, as they took Championship outfit Lewes to penalties following a 1-1 draw, but ultimately lost on spot kicks.
The competition's biggest giant killing ended up going to Championship side Leicester, who beat top flight Reading 2-1 to book their last eight spot.
Birmingham reached the quarter finals with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland of tier three. Playing against her former club, Lucy Staniforth (now of Manchester United) hit the winner and was then sent off for wildly celebrating in front of a Sunderland fan who had been abusing her throughout the game.
Quarter Final 1 - Arsenal vs Tottenham
Saturday 26 September, 17:15
The Gunners have started the season as the country's form team, winning their first two league matches and scoring 15 goals in the process.
They play a Tottenham side who could line up with their new high profile arrival in the starting XI - two time World Cup winner and global sporting icon Alex Morgan.
Tottenham have long lived in Arsenal's shadow, such is the force of nature the Gunners have been in the women's game, but Joe Montemurro's side only edged past Spurs when the two teams met last November. The Gunners will be expected to progress, but the gap is closing.
Quarter Final 2 - Everton vs Chelsea
Sunday 27 September, 13:00
Emma Hayes' side boast the most outrageous squad depth in the division, with world record signing Pernille Harder joining an already formidable forward line consisting of Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby, Guro Reiten, Erin Cuthbert and Beth England.
But Everton have started the season in impressive form, and are the only side other than Arsenal with a 100% record from their opening two WSL games. The Toffees made a selection of shrewd signings in the summer window, while January addition Izzy Christiansen is now fully fit and has hit the ground running this season.
Chelsea have already been held by Manchester United this season - but then took their frustration out by dismantling Bristol City - and it will be fascinating to see how Everton fare against the WSL's best.
Quarter Final 3 - Leicester City vs Manchester City
Sunday 27 September, 14:00
The only remaining team from outside the top flight have been handed the daunting task of the visit of cup holders Manchester City in the last eight.
Plenty has changed for both sides since they were drawn to play each other back in February; Manchester City have signed World Cup winning duo Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle, the world class Lucy Bronze has returned to the club and Gareth Taylor has been appointed as their new full time manager.
Leicester meanwhile have turned into a fully professional women's side, and have celebrated their change in status by bringing in an assortment of experienced WSL players, including Remi Allen, Millie Farrow, and former Manchester City academy product Natasha Flint.
The Foxes are still considered big underdogs, but could not have picked a better time to play City; the Citizens are still finding their feet under new boss Taylor, beating Aston Villa 2-0 on the opening day of the season thanks to two Villa defensive errors, before missing a host of chances as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Brighton.
Quarter Final 4 - Brighton vs Birmingham
Sunday 27 September, 14:00
Sunday's fourth quarter final is the battle of the underdogs as Brighton take on 2012 FA Cup winners Birmingham, with both sides spending much of last season battling relegation.
However, the Seagulls had looked in good shape before the season was curtailed, avoiding a potential banana skin with victory over Championship leaders Aston Villa in the FA Cup fourth round, and recording an impressive win over Everton in the WSL.
Despite six months without competitive football, Hope Powell's side have carried on from where they left off, beating Sunday's opponents Birmingham three weeks ago on the opening day of the season and battling to a 0-0 draw with Manchester City. They have since made a very astute signing in the shape of Denise O'Sullivan.
Birmingham have hired former Sheffield United manager Carla Ward since their fifth round victory over Sunderland. The Blues have lost the spine of their team and their opening two WSL fixtures, and having narrowly avoided the drop last season, are tipped for a season of struggle.
The final will be played at Wembley for the sixth successive season on 31 October.
Source : 90min