The draw for the 2020/21 edition of the Continental Cup has produced two incredible ‘groups of death’, pitting Arsenal and Chelsea against each in one, as well as Manchester City and Manchester United in another alongside other local rivals.
The competition has changed slightly since last season, with four groups now expanded to six groups. There are five groups of four and one of three to split the 23 participating clubs from the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship.
Group B and Group C instantly stand out from the regionalised draw.
The former features reigning WSL champions and Conti Cup holders Chelsea next to Arsenal and Tottenham, plus Championship side London City Lionesses.
Group C, meanwhile, is three-time former winners Manchester City, alongside Manchester, a potentially strong Everton and recently relegated Liverpool.
The strength in those two groups in particular could mean early big-name casualties, as the change in format means that only group winners are guaranteed to progress to the quarter-finals, accompanied by the two best runners-up.
Last season, Manchester United actually finished ahead of Manchester City in this round of the competition, although both automatically reached the knockouts anyway. Arsenal and Chelsea, who went on to meet in the 2020 final, also won their respective groups.
The clustering of big teams also opens up the competition for other clubs like Aston Villa, Reading, Brighton, West Ham or Bristol City to enjoy a prolonged run to the latter stages.
2020/21 Continental Cup Group Stage Draw:
Group A: Coventry United (2), Aston Villa (1), Sheffield United (2), Durham (2)
Group B: Chelsea (1), Tottenham (1), Arsenal (1), London City Lionesses (2)
Group C: Liverpool (2), Manchester United (1), Everton (1), Manchester City (1)
Group D: West Ham (1), Charlton (2), Reading (1), Brighton (1)
Group E: Birmingham (1), Blackburn (2), Leicester (2)
Group F: Lewes (2), London Bees (2), Bristol City (1), Crystal Palace (2)
(1) or (2) denotes Women’s Super League or Women’s Championship respectively