Vic's four-way streak can put Wenger in shade

Arsène Wenger believes this could yet be his best season as Arsenal manager if his side can win the European Cup. The French coach has won other trophies before, of course, but do not expect Arsenal's kit man, Vic Akers, to be overly impressed.

Arsène Wenger believes this could yet be his best season as Arsenal manager if his side can win the European Cup. The French coach has won other trophies before, of course, but do not expect Arsenal's kit man, Vic Akers, to be overly impressed.

The Islington-born Akers doubles up as manager of the Arsenal women's team and has won 19 trophies in 17 years of running the side. Last season marked his fourth Double, and today Arsenal face Charlton in the Women's Premier League Cup final, at Brentford's Griffin Park, attempting to win the first leg of an unprecedented quadruple, with the championship, FA Cup and Uefa Cup within reach.

Though not in Europe, Charlton are capable of stopping Arsenal at home, as they are also chasing a domestic treble. Since Fulham were unable to sustain professionalism, Charlton have emerged as the main rivals to the semi-pros of Arsenal. Charlton top the Premier League table, though Arsenal have enough games in hand to overhaul them, and are the only side to have beaten Arsenal in their past 33 games.

Today's Mother's Day clash is a rematch of last season's FA Women's Cup Final, which Arsenal won 3-0, courtesy of a Julie Fleeting hat-trick, in front of a 13,000-plus crowd and a live BBC television audience. Sky Sports are today's broadcasters. That this final goes out live, one of only two occasions in the women's football calendar, means it carries huge importance.

As both teams are packed with internationals it should be a close game - of their last nine meetings Charlton, who boast a host of former Arsenal players, have won five and drawn one. Both Akers and Charlton's manager, Keith Boanas, have virtually full-strength squads. Casey Stoney, the Charlton captain and ex-Arsenal player, is expecting to retain the trophy, but another key player is likely to be Arsenal's captain, Faye White, also an England international defender, who works full-time for Arsenal as a development officer.

White's defensive partnership with Mary Phillip has been key to Arsenal's success, but she said: "We have improved a lot since we lost to Charlton in the Community Shield at the beginning of the season, and one of the main reasons is that we've been converting our chances up front. Charlton are stronger too so it will be won by the team who concentrate best and take their opportunities."

The Arsenal strikers Lianne Sanderson and Fleeting have scored 25 goals between them this season, and trying to keep them out will be a former Arsenal team-mate, the Charlton goalkeeper Pauline Cope, 36. She insisted the two best women's teams have reached the final, and said it is no coincidence they have strong backing from their clubs, unlike Manchester United, who have decided to axe their women's side. Cope is hoping to defy Arsenal with some tips from the Charlton men's keeper Dean Kiely. She said: "I get the chance to train with Dean and he is a top bloke. I feel my game has improved about 90 per cent since he came to the club. Both teams have great players and are on for domestic trebles. It should be a cracking match."

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