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Fulham Ladies v Arsenal
FA Cup Final Sky2 15:00

last updated Monday 07th May 2001, 9:45 AM
Fulham Ladies celebrate
Will the Fulham Ladies celebrate again today?
Fulham and Arsenal will not have the luxury of newly-laid turf when they meet in the FA Cup final at Selhurst Park today. It will be Fulham's biggest challenge to date, despite having swept all before them in the South-East Combination League and being unbeaten in all competitions this season. But, for the country's only professional team, defeating League Cup winners Arsenal - arguably the most successful women's side over the last 10 years - will prove a much bigger hurdle.

General manager Gary Mulchaey is aware all eyes will be on the Selhurst Park clash as his side aim to create history but believes his players are ready to prove they are capable of mixing it with the best.

''Obviously Arsenal are the top women's side of the last 10 years and they are on for the Treble. They have a squad full of internationals and are used to playing on big stage, so we're hoping to play well on the day,'' he said.

''The girls are fully prepared and I think it will be a great game and good advert for women's football as a whole. We're very excited and it is great that we can pit ourselves against a club like Arsenal. We've been waiting for this all season and we would love to be playing against sides like this all season.''

Mulchaey insists it is Arsenal who will go into the game as favourites, despite the fact his side are the professionals. ''They are favourites on the basis you can't buy experience. We have never played in a major cup final.

''Our squad includes nine Fulham players of last year but obviously we strengthened with the likes of Norway's Margunn Haugenes and Marieanne Pettersen, who have played in the Olympic games, and Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman, who have played in cup finals before, but it is experience which counts.''

The favourites title however, sits uneasily on the shoulders of Arsenal striker Marieanne Spacey as she feels the game is more finely balanced than many people believe.

The England forward is well aware of the challenge Fulham present - having seen their London rivals overturn a mainly reserve Arsenal side in the London County Cup - and she insisted: ''Their fitness is going to be high, their technical levels are going to be high because they are training every day.

''I know people are playing the experience card with us but if you look at who they've got in their squad - Olympic gold medallists and regular England squad players - it's going to be a really, really hard game.''

Spacey credits the team's preparation as the reason for their success this season - they are currently on top of the National Division and have already won the League Cup.

''We are very, very focused. That's the thing that has made us consistent this season. We've been focused in what we want to achieve and the fact that the Treble is getting closer and closer, but still out of reach, is still very strong with us. We're confident but we know that we have to play to the very, very best of our ability to get any kind of result on Monday.''
Source Football365
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