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Conti Cup Quarter Finals: Championship Sides to Take on WSL Title-Contenders

With the drama of the Conti Cup group stage finally complete, the quarter finals of the Women's Continental League Cup will take place this Wednesday.

Two Championship sides made it into the knockout stages, with six Women's Super League sides also reaching the quarter finals.

London City currently sit 10th in the Women's Championship, only just out of the relegation zone, yet the Lionesses topped their Conti Cup group to reach the quarter finals. The Championship's 2nd-place Sunderland also made it through to the Conti Cup knockouts, topping their group following Aston Villa's points deduction for fielding an ineligible player.

Brighton & Hove Albion will host Aston Villa, with the two sides being evenly matched so far this season. They sit only two points apart in the Women's Super League table, on 11 and 13 points respectively.

Brighton breezed through the group stage, having won all three of their Conti Cup group games, beating West Ham, Charlton Athletic and Birmingham City.

Aston Villa initially topped their group, with four wins from four games, but were deducted three points for fielding a cup-tied player. Fullback Noelle Maritz, who had played for Arsenal in the Conti Cup group stage before her move to Villa, came on in the Villain's 7-0 win over Sunderland, meaning Sunderland were awarded the three points instead. However, Aston Villa still made it through to the knockout stages as they were one of the best group runners-up.

Both sides have had inconsistent form in the WSL this season, but will be hoping to put in a big performance on Wednesday night. During their last meet in December, Aston Villa emerged victorious, with a 1-0 win over the Seagulls.

Championship side London City Lionesses were rewarded for winning their group with a high-profile tie against WSL side Arsenal at home in the quarter final.

London City are the lowest ranked side still in the competition, as they are fighting to stay out of the Championship's relegation zone. They currently sit in 10th place, on just 12 points from 15 league games.

However, London City's luck has faired differently in the Conti Cup, as the Lionesses topped their group with two wins, against Crystal Palace and Lewes, and a draw against Watford.

Arsenal will be pleased with this quarter final draw, as London City should be a reasonably easy opponent for the WSL title-contenders.

However, Arsenal slipped up in their Women's Super League clash with West Ham on Sunday, losing 2-1 to the Hammers. This blow to the Gunners' league title hopes means their most realistic chance for silverware may now rely on the Conti Cup.

Tottenham will host Manchester City in what looks to be the tie of the round.

Tottenham are currently 6th in the WSL, sitting just behind Liverpool on goal difference. Manchester City have moved up to 2nd in the league, three points behind Chelsea and three points ahead of Arsenal.

Manchester City had the toughest path to the quarter final, having to face four WSL opponents. However, the Sky Blues topped their group with three wins and a draw from four games, including a 2-1 win over rivals Manchester United.

Tottenham had a slightly easier route to the knockout stages. Although they shared a group with rivals Arsenal, Tottenham won three of their games against lower-ranked sides Southampton, Bristol City and Reading. Spurs came away from the North London clash with a point. However, they lost in a penalty shootout against the Gunners, giving Arsenal the extra point to put them at the top of the group, leaving Tottenham to scrape through to the next round as one of the best second-place teams.

Although not being the only all-WSL clash, this tie certainly seems to be the biggest of the round and will definitely be one to watch.

Chelsea enter the competition at this stage, with the Blues having skipped the group stage due to their participation in the Champions League.

Championship title-contenders Sunderland were drawn away to Chelsea, with the Black Cats having to make the long journey south for a very difficult cup tie. They currently sit 2nd in the Championship, just 2 points behind Charlton. Sunderland progressed to the Conti Cup quarter finals having topped their group, with three wins and a draw.

Although unlikely to win the tie, Sunderland will put out a strong team to showcase their capability against a top-level side, hoping to prove they can fight against the top teams should they win the Championship and promotion to the WSL.

Chelsea have progressed to the Champions League knockout stages, and are also leading the WSL title-fight, so will likely make plenty of changes from their strongest starting XI for their tie against the lower-ranked Sunderland. This may give Sunderland the chance to shock the Blues, and progress into the semi-finals.

No replays will be held for these fixtures, meaning in the event of a draw, the games would go to extra time and then penalties if necessary.

All four quarter final ties are sure to provide brilliant entertainment, as most teams will fancy their chances of progressing to the semi-finals.

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