There is no doubt in Casey Stoney’s mind about how important Saturday’s SSE Women’s FA Cup Final is.
“It’s the biggest day in women’s football in this country,” she said.
“It’s the one game you want to play in. You obviously want to win league titles but there’s not anything in the world like The FA Cup.
Arsenal v Chelsea
SSE Women's FA Cup Final
2pm, Saturday 14 May 2016
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Tickets priced £15 adults, kids go free
“And to be competing for it at the home of football is just so exciting. I can’t wait.”
Stoney and her Arsenal team-mates will take on London rivals, and holders, Chelsea in the Wembley showpiece at the weekend.
The former England captain has been at the forefront of women’s football for well over a decade. She has captained her country, and Team GB, and won this competition with the Gunners in 2014, before helping the Lionesses win bronze at last year’s World Cup.
Stoney has experienced most things the game has to offer but she admits that she never imagined a Women’s FA Cup Final would ever be staged at Wembley.
She said: “I’ve always dreamed about it but never in a million years did I think in my lifetime, especially not in my career, that it would be a possibility.
“I didn’t think we’d ever have an FA Cup Final at Wembley.
“It’s still a bit surreal. I’ve watched so many men’s games at Wembley and watched the guys walking up the steps and I’ve always thought ‘I wonder what that feels like’.
“So to be playing at the home of football, for me, one of the best stadiums in the world, to compete for The FA Cup and have a chance of walking up those steps at the end of the game is something you dream of as a little kid. I can’t wait for the game to come. My children will be in the crowd and I want to make them proud.
“We’re still here, we’re not going away and we want to put our stamp back on the women’s game”
Stoney on Arsenal revival
“But I need to keep it in check. It’s a big game and Chelsea are a fantastic side. We just want to make sure that we do our job and do ourselves justice. We want that 14th FA Cup in our cabinet.”
The Gunners are perennial winners of this competition and no club has won the trophy more times.
But there is a new force in town; Emma Hayes’s double winners from last year. The Blues served notice of their intentions this season with a 2-0 win over Arsenal last month.
However, Stoney does not believe that result will have any bearing at Wembley, and she said Arsenal are ready to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with.
She explained: “We were nowhere near it when we played Chelsea last time. It was a below-par performance from us.
“That is not the Arsenal you will see on Saturday. This is a one-off game.
“If you need motivating to play at Wembley then you shouldn’t be playing the game.
“There will be no need for motivation or inspiration. It’s just a case of keeping calm on the day.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players in our changing room that have been in FA Cup Finals and won FA Cup Finals and I think that will be in our favour.
“We’re not going away. We’re under no illusions – Chelsea are the favourites to win this game, and so they should be. They’re in form, they won it last year and they are ahead of us in the league.
“But we want to get back into the habit of winning things. We want to show that we’re on our way back.
“We’re still here, we’re not going away and we want to put our stamp back on the women’s game.”