Taking part in at Wembley is a dream many kids have from a younger age. For Aston Villa defender Anna Patten, that saying is actually true.
Patten’s grandparents stay only a five-minute stroll away from the largest stadium within the nation. The well-known landmark was ever-present within the defender’s childhood.
« Very often, we might go over to my grandparents for sleepovers and I would play within the again backyard with my brothers and we may see the arch from there, » she advised Sky Sports activities.
« It is received a candy spot in my coronary heart, the FA Cup and Wembley. »
Patten’s dream is simply now one win away. The 23-year-old, on mortgage from Arsenal, will doubtless line up within the again 4 for Villa as they tackle Chelsea in Sunday’s semi-final.
However of their manner are the most effective groups within the land, probably even in Europe. Emma Hayes’ Blues come into the sport as huge favourites – however not assured winners.
This weekend’s FA Cup semi-finals
- Saturday: Man Utd vs Brighton – kick-off 5.15pm
- Sunday: Aston Villa vs Chelsea – kick-off 2.15pm
Villa are having a surprisingly good season themselves. Carla Ward’s facet are fifth within the desk, 12 factors off the summit and after beating Manchester Metropolis within the quarter-finals, they stand a greater than first rate likelihood of an upset.
« The depth and work ethic in defending, ensuring we stop them having alternatives, has been large, » Patten added. « It has been a complete effort – again to entrance.
« That is the explanation we had lots of pleasure in opposition to Metropolis and that is what we have to soak up this recreation.
« Once you’re enjoying the large groups – it is about not fearing them. It is fairly simple to again off and provides them respect. You possibly can’t do this in these video games. »
Villa that includes of their first FA Cup semi-final of their historical past makes it a special day. They’re receiving assist from the entire membership as they bid to make a historic last. The boys’s workforce did their half of their preparations for Sunday’s last-four tie in a coaching session on Friday.
« We had the Beneath-23 boys come over to ‘be Chelsea,' » Patten revealed. « That they had all these techniques of the ways in which Chelsea may play in opposition to us and we needed to remedy these points. »
What Villa’s youth workforce will not have, nevertheless, is the specter of Sam Kerr, contemporary off scoring in opposition to England in midweek and targeted on delivering extra silverware for Chelsea.
Kerr discovered the online in opposition to Villa as not too long ago as three weeks in the past, scoring an aesthetic third in Chelsea’s 3-0 league away win – a outcome which noticed Patten’s facet compete, however fail to scratch the Blues’ troublesome floor.
« That is what they’re like, » the centre-back mentioned, reflecting on the sport. « You possibly can’t give them many alternatives.
« Chelsea have gamers who could make one thing out of nothing. They’re some of the medical groups in entrance of aim so we’ve got to nullify as many possibilities as we are able to.
« What we have been upset at as a workforce [in the league defeat] is that two of the objectives got here from set-pieces so they have been an enormous focus on this recreation on Sunday.
« It is also about managing momentum – in opposition to groups like that there are going to be waves of strain and alternatives for them. However it’s about getting via these after which take our possibilities on the different finish. »
Requested about the specter of Kerr, Patten – who will doubtless mark her on Sunday – added: « Considered one of her fundamental strengths is within the air, in order that’s one of many issues we have been engaged on and hopefully we are able to get these alternatives. »
Let’s not overlook the risk that Villa pose, particularly with the second-highest Ladies’s Tremendous League goalscorer in Rachel Daly in assault. Add Alisha Lehmann and Kenza Dali into the combination – and with top-level expertise similar to Jordan Nobbs and Patten within the workforce, there may be lots for Sunday’s hosts to supply.
« Our entrance line and midfield have been unreal at creating possibilities and scoring them, » mentioned Patten. « Individuals speak about ‘Daly and Dali’ and so they’ve received a terrific relationship and scored objectives collectively. We have got nice highly effective wingers who’ve created plenty of possibilities.
« When you may have somebody like Rachel Daly within the field, it is nice being on her workforce however not in coaching when it’s important to defend in opposition to her! She is simply as medical as the large names in girls’s soccer.
« She’s a terrific participant to have in coaching and across the workforce as effectively. What she’s performed right here is are available in, be very snug and assured, and brought lots of the younger women below the wing, which lots of them have appreciated.
« She additionally does not put herself on a pedestal, she may have after getting back from the Euros, however that is not what she’s like in any respect. She’s a terrific participant, she has a lot high quality. Left, proper, headers, volleys – you title it. »
Daly has helped contribute to a change in mentality at Villa this season. The Lionesses ahead’s arrival from the USA in the summertime has been backed up by the signings of Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth earlier this yr.
Patten, who was on mortgage at Villa final season too, has seen the shift in mentality first-hand.
« There’s positively been a step up, » she mentioned. « In earlier years, individuals have checked out Villa and gone: ‘a again 5 and a direct workforce’.
« However we pleasure ourselves on enjoying out from the again and our aggressive press and the way we actually take it to groups now as a substitute of sitting off and letting them dominate. »
Patten can even see Sunday’s semi-final as a significant private alternative to impress. The England U23s defender is eyeing up a spot in Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses squad – an achievement which she admits is a profession aim, however one she doesn’t really feel near but.
However being at high-flying Villa – set for a top-five end within the WSL and doubtlessly a FA Cup last – is not going to do her possibilities any hurt.
« A giant aim for me can be making an attempt to push and step up into the Lionesses squad however I’m conscious of the excessive degree of competitors in my place, » she mentioned when requested what she needs the following few years to appear like.
« What’s nice for me is Sunday is an enormous alternative and large groups and that is the place you may exit and show your self. After which hopefully the ultimate after that, however I do not wish to get too forward of myself. »
Is Patten shocked about this standout Villa season? « It hasn’t shocked us women, the place we’re within the league or how far we have gone within the cup. All of us anticipated it.
« It is extra individuals outdoors going: ‘Ooh, that is a shocking one!' »
Patten is hoping individuals will react equally to the results of Sunday’s recreation.
Comply with stay updates of Aston Villa’s FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea on Sky Sports activities’ stay weblog from Sunday, kick-off 2.15pm