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Will the Gunners lift a fourth trophy?

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Lance Hardy | 18:06 UK time, Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Arsenal Ladies will underline their dominance of women's football in this country, should they build on last weekend's Uefa Cup triumph, on Bank Holiday Monday's FA Women's Cup final.

The north London team could go on to lift an unprecedented fourth trophy of the season, if they win against Charlton Athletic, at the City Ground, Nottingham, which is live on BBC ONE from 12.40pm.

It is the first time in the six years that I have been editing the match for the BBC, that the final has taken place outside of London. A record crowd is expected, buoyed by the growth in women's football in this country, England's qualification for the 2007 Women's World Cup and the promise of good weather.

Emma Byrne jumps to join the other Arsenal players after Alex Scott scores in the last minute of the final match of the Women's Cup against Umea IKWomen's football has grown beyond recognition over those six years. I think that the success of the Women's Euro 2005 tournament, held in the north-west of England two summers ago, was a real watershed for the game. Last September's qualification for the World Cup, at the expense of France, in Rennes provided, arguably, the finest result of the nation's history in the women's game.

Domestically, Arsenal have been the team to beat in both the FA Women's Premier League and the FA Women's Cup over the past few years. The Gunners were crowned European champions after their 1-0 aggregate win over Swedish league champions Umea. The fact that this was achieved without either the suspended Kelly Smith, or the injured Faye White speaks volumes. Smith will return to the side on Monday, and I understand that White could be on the bench.

This season Vic Akers' side have been untouchable. They have notched over 100 goals in a flawless league campaign, that has seen 20 wins from 20 fixtures, and four cup matches have provided 26 goals so far.

The club forms the backbone to the England side that has qualified for this year's World Cup, to be held in China in September. Seven of the England team are expected to start for Arsenal on Monday. Sadly, for England coach Hope Powell, the team's star striker Julie Fleeting is Scottish. Fleeting hit a hat-trick the last time Arsenal met Charlton in the FA Women's Cup final at Loftus Road in 2004 and also starred last season when The Gunners thrashed Leeds 5-0 at The Den to claim their seventh triumph in the competition.

Charlton have also enjoyed a successful season and lie second in the league table, but such is Arsenal's dominance that the Addicks trail their London rivals by 19 points and were crushed 9-2 when the sides met in the league last month.

Eniola Aluko still remains Charlton's biggest threat, although Natasha Dowie (niece of Coventry City manager and BBC World Cup pundit Iain Dowie) has chipped in with some big goals this season, notably the semi-final winner against Blackburn. Aluko scored the goal that won Charlton the FA Women's Cup in 2005 and was also the match-winner when Charlton beat Arsenal to lift the Women's League Cup last season - the last defeat inflicted on The Gunners in all competitions, over a year ago!

Jake Humphrey presents live coverage of the match, with opinion and analysis from Rachel Brown, Sue Smith and Gavin Peacock. Hope Powell joins Guy Mowbray in the commentary box and will give an interview at half-time.

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