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Houghton “confident” of City victory, but Flaherty says West Ham can spring a surprise

Manchester City Women’s captain Steph Houghton says she respects West Ham United for reaching the FA Cup Final, but is confident she will be lifting the trophy at Wembley on Saturday.

City are aiming for a cup double this season having have missed out on the Women’s Super League title to Arsenal despite not losing a game.

They beat the Gunners in the League Cup final back in February and are big favourites to add the FA Cup to their haul this weekend.

City defeated West Ham twice in the league this term, but Houghton insists those results will count for nothing this weekend.

“Anything can happen in a cup final – that’s what everybody likes about them,” she told the Guardian.

“When we won 3-1 at Rush Green it wasn’t a bad performance – West Ham gave us quite a tough game.

“We know what it’s like to be underdogs too – when we played Arsenal in the League Cup final we were not favourites to win – but every finalist has to believe it can all happen on the day.

“West Ham have been on an incredible journey this season and it has ended up at Wembley. You have to respect that, but at the same time we are feeling confident.

“We have played well this season, we’ve got a good mix of youth and experience in the squad, and we enjoy playing at Wembley. We think we have a chance of winning another trophy.”

The Hammers reached the final after a thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over Reading in the semi-finals.

They were beaten 10-2 on aggregate in their two league meetings with City, but defender Gill Flaherty believes the Hammers can spring a surprise at Wembley.

“You’ve got to remember that Manchester City have only been in one FA Cup Final themselves and won it once,” she said.

“You never know what you’re going to expect when it comes to the FA Cup Final – you never know how players are going to react to playing in front of that many thousand fans.

“I think we focus on us and we do our game plan and go at them.”

Flaherty has claimed plenty of honours during her career, including winning the FA Cup on seven previous occasions with Arsenal and Chelsea.

However, despite her successes she has never captained her team in a Wembley final and she says that adds an extra incentive this weekend.

“I think it would be the pinnacle really in my career (to win the cup), she added.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of many successful teams, but to come here, obviously there were a few eyebrows raised when leaving Chelsea.

“We were fighting at the top end, so to come to a club that really was brand new in our first professional year was a big move.

“Obviously, I trusted Beardy (Matt Beard) and his vision for the club and I wanted to be a part of it and obviously us getting to the FA Cup Final proved to be the right decision.”

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