Charlton Athletic

Charlton Athletic slideshow

Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Roger Johnson returns for another shot at Wembley
Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Roger Johnson returns for another shot at Wembley
Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Roger Johnson returns for another shot at Wembley
Bromley FC is a proud old club, but not a successful one. Dave Roberts’ book The Bromley Boys chronicles the author following the team in the 1960s, when it had an authentic claim to being the worst in the country. The town it represents has a higher population than Crewe, Shrewsbury and Accrington but has never hosted the league football expected in those places. Instead, Bromley have just completed a third season of steady improvement in the National League, the highest level the club have ever reached. They have visited Wembley once, for the final of the old FA Amateur Cup in 1949 for a 1-0 win over Romford in front of 96,000. They return on Sunday for the FA Trophy final and have a player to call on who has already played three times under the arch, seeking a redemptive coda to a varied career. Centre-back Roger Johnson was part of the Birmingham City side who beat Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final, and with Cardiff when they lost the FA Cup final to Portsmouth in 2008 but beat Barnsley in the semi at Wembley. “Everyone says ‘just try and relax and enjoy the day’ but it’s very stressful,” he says. “The anxiety, getting there, the build-up. I’m sure once we’re out there and the whistle blows we’ll be fine.” Johnson, 35, looks remarkably lean as we talk after a video analysis session at Bromley’s Hayes Lane home. An armful of tattoos indicates his tour of duty in the modern Premier League, where he shone at Birmingham, endured a tougher spell at Wolves and turned out four times for West Ham as recently as 2014. The Wembley opponents are Brackley Town from the tier below and while Bromley have sold an impressive 20,000 tickets the stadium will still be sparsely occupied. Nevertheless, Johnson puts the game on a par with his most notable previous visit. “Winning on Sunday would mean as much as the Birmingham win,” he says. “Yeah it’s not an 89,000 sell-out against an Arsenal team with Robin van Persie in it who beat Barcelona nine days before, but we’re we’re there on merit.” Surprisingly heartfelt words from a man who came close to the England squad while with Birmingham. “I got six England call-ups for the 30-man squad, but nobody got injured so I didn’t make the 23,” he says. It was a rapid ascension after a long apprenticeship at Wycombe Wanderers, where he made his debut at 17. Cardiff eventually took a gamble on him in 2006 before Johnson stepped up to the Premier League with Birmingham. That solid side finished ninth in his first season but were relegated three months after their Wembley win. Johnson joined Bromley after 18 months at Charlton Athletic Credit: JULIAN SIMMONDS for The Telegraph A move to Wolves followed to prolong his top-flight career but little went to plan. He strongly disputes stories he once arrived at training worse for wear from the night before, but addresses his time at Molineux with candour. “I blame myself,” he says. “I had a dip in form, in a team of people that had a dip in form. I was blocking shots and it was going in off me, I was making stupid errors that I never make. “A regret is taking the captaincy when it was offered to me. It made my signing even bigger because I was the team captain and if things are going wrong the skipper has to answer for it. “It was hard to dig people out and have an opinion on what was going wrong, because I was one of the things that wasn’t working.” Loans to Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham took him away from the West Midlands before two spells at Charlton, either side of a sojourn in India with Pune City and unlikely team-mates Adrian Mutu and Didier Zokora. “I’d never choose to go to that side of the world personally, but I’ve seen the whole of India now. Goa was good, but the north-east was tough. There was no phone signal. Some of the flights were very dodgy, but it’s a tick in a box.” A far cry from Bromley’s Hayes Lane, surely one of the country’s only grounds which is approached via a road next to a field of grazing horses. Johnson celebrates Birmingham's victory over Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final in the traditional fashion Credit: Action Images/Lee Smith After a knee injury and a subsequent blood poisoning from the surgery to treat it, Johnson is happy to be back playing the game he loves. “I’m not going to sit here and think I’ve had a failed career,” he says. “Every player wants to reach the Premier League and play for their country, I did one of them and got very close to the other.” Calm and philosophical, he seems every inch the elder statesmen and you can easily imagine him coaching. “I’m not too proud to go down the divisions but I probably wouldn’t drop any further, unless there was a player-coach role. I can’t see myself doing pub football. “There are some horrible people out there, who want to bad mouth you and write nonsense on social media. But have they been a footballer? No they haven’t. “My career, my stats, and what I’ve won speak for themselves. Wikipedia it, then write me something on social media.”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been voted the Premier League Manager of the Year by the League Manager's Association. Spaniard Guardiola saw his side set a new Premier League points record of 100, scoring 106 goals along the way. Guardiola collected his accolade at the LMA Awards dinner in London on Tuesday night, having 24 hours earlier enjoyed celebrating City's triumph with an open-top bus parade around Manchester. Elsewhere, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock received an LMA Special Achievement Award to mark a record eighth career promotion after taking the Welsh club up in second place in the Sky Bet Championship. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo picked up the LMA Championship award, having seen his side secure the title. Neil Warnock received a LMA Special Achievement Award Credit: Getty Images The LMA League One Manager Of The Year award went to Shrewsbury's Paul Hurst, whose team finished third behind Blackburn and champions Wigan. The Shrews saw off Charlton to book their place in the play-off final at Wembley, where they will face either Scunthorpe or Rotherham. John Coleman collected the League Two award after Accrington Stanley claimed the title with 93 points. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women's Super League award after leading her side to a league and cup double.
Pep Guardiola wins LMA Manager of Year award
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been voted the Premier League Manager of the Year by the League Manager's Association. Spaniard Guardiola saw his side set a new Premier League points record of 100, scoring 106 goals along the way. Guardiola collected his accolade at the LMA Awards dinner in London on Tuesday night, having 24 hours earlier enjoyed celebrating City's triumph with an open-top bus parade around Manchester. Elsewhere, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock received an LMA Special Achievement Award to mark a record eighth career promotion after taking the Welsh club up in second place in the Sky Bet Championship. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo picked up the LMA Championship award, having seen his side secure the title. Neil Warnock received a LMA Special Achievement Award Credit: Getty Images The LMA League One Manager Of The Year award went to Shrewsbury's Paul Hurst, whose team finished third behind Blackburn and champions Wigan. The Shrews saw off Charlton to book their place in the play-off final at Wembley, where they will face either Scunthorpe or Rotherham. John Coleman collected the League Two award after Accrington Stanley claimed the title with 93 points. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women's Super League award after leading her side to a league and cup double.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been voted the Premier League Manager of the Year by the League Manager's Association. Spaniard Guardiola saw his side set a new Premier League points record of 100, scoring 106 goals along the way. Guardiola collected his accolade at the LMA Awards dinner in London on Tuesday night, having 24 hours earlier enjoyed celebrating City's triumph with an open-top bus parade around Manchester. Elsewhere, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock received an LMA Special Achievement Award to mark a record eighth career promotion after taking the Welsh club up in second place in the Sky Bet Championship. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo picked up the LMA Championship award, having seen his side secure the title. Neil Warnock received a LMA Special Achievement Award Credit: Getty Images The LMA League One Manager Of The Year award went to Shrewsbury's Paul Hurst, whose team finished third behind Blackburn and champions Wigan. The Shrews saw off Charlton to book their place in the play-off final at Wembley, where they will face either Scunthorpe or Rotherham. John Coleman collected the League Two award after Accrington Stanley claimed the title with 93 points. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women's Super League award after leading her side to a league and cup double.
Pep Guardiola wins LMA Manager of Year award
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been voted the Premier League Manager of the Year by the League Manager's Association. Spaniard Guardiola saw his side set a new Premier League points record of 100, scoring 106 goals along the way. Guardiola collected his accolade at the LMA Awards dinner in London on Tuesday night, having 24 hours earlier enjoyed celebrating City's triumph with an open-top bus parade around Manchester. Elsewhere, Cardiff manager Neil Warnock received an LMA Special Achievement Award to mark a record eighth career promotion after taking the Welsh club up in second place in the Sky Bet Championship. Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo picked up the LMA Championship award, having seen his side secure the title. Neil Warnock received a LMA Special Achievement Award Credit: Getty Images The LMA League One Manager Of The Year award went to Shrewsbury's Paul Hurst, whose team finished third behind Blackburn and champions Wigan. The Shrews saw off Charlton to book their place in the play-off final at Wembley, where they will face either Scunthorpe or Rotherham. John Coleman collected the League Two award after Accrington Stanley claimed the title with 93 points. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes won the FA Women's Super League award after leading her side to a league and cup double.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Why are so many of us now choosing to travel alone?
The world was once, for many of us, a huge and daunting labyrinth; a difficult, expensive challenge to navigate, and a path best travelled with friends in tow. You had to be good at map-reading, for one, with the ability to overcome language barriers. Getting around was simply harder. That’s changed considerably, and an ever-increasing number of us are these days setting off on adventures alone. Is it just that Google can now steer even the most directionally challenged among us to our next location, or translate words from any dialect back and forth? Is it that more of us are single, and staying single, than ever before? Are we now by nature too impatient to wait for a suitable companion to show up? Telegraph Travel spoke to a variety of tour operators to examine the rising trend of going it alone, to see how it is impacting everything from hotel bookings and Airbnbs, to cruises and British cottage breaks. Is solo travel really growing? By all accounts, yes. According to Abta's latest annual Holiday Habits survey, one in nine holidaymakers reported that they took a holiday on their own in the previous 12 months - double the number compared to six years previous. Hitwise, the UK’s largest online behavioural research tool, said that from analysing searches made by 3 million consumers in the UK, across all search engines, there was a 143 per cent increase in "solo travel" searches over the past three years. In the past four weeks, incidentally, the most popular destinations driving solo travel searches have been Costa Rica, South East Asia and New Zealand. If we’re not doing it, we’re certainly dreaming about doing it. According to inspiration sharing site Pinterest, recent numbers are even higher - with searches for “solo travel” up by nearly 600 per cent this year. Costa Rica: popular with lone wanderers Credit: Getty Hotel booking sites have reported similar trends. Hotelscan.com has noticed a 170 per cent increase in the last 12 months for those looking to book a room by themselves, the most popular destinations for this being Thailand, Peru, Sydney, Portugal and Vietnam respectively. LateRooms.com said that between April 2017 and April 2018, they’ve seen their share of solo travelers increase by a more modest 14 per cent. Hostelworld has seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of solo bookings made between 2015 and 2017, a more dramatic spike than in any other sector for the site. Airbnb, too, has been seeing an increase in lone bookings. Its fastest-growing spots for solo guests include Cancun (a 170 per cent increase), Ho Chi Minh City (146 per cent), Cologne (142 per cent), Playa del Carmen (141 per cent) and Johannesburg (135 per cent). And people aren’t always hopping on a plane to get away by themselves. They’re checking into their own British holiday cottages too. A spokesperson for one directory, Unique Home Stays, said: “We’ve been established for 17 years and have noticed a significant increase in solo travel over the last few years: with a 48 per cent spike since 2015.” Even cruise operators have had to adjust their offerings to cater for higher numbers of passengers traveling alone. Norwegian Cruise Line spied the trend all the way back in 2010, when it first launched studio rooms designed especially for single travellers. Britain's most remote holiday cottages This year, Riviera Travel introduced solo cabins with no single supplements across their river cruise programme and due to demand – 18 per cent of their customers are now travelling alone – this year introduced two new dedicated river cruise itineraries specifically for this sector. The Telegraph’s Pat Richardson is a fan, writing: “Cruising and solo travellers could have been made for each other. Your travel arrangements are handled by experts, you’re looked after on board and are in safe hands when you join a shore excursion. You’ll make new friends and are unlikely to be the only one sailing solo.” What sort of travellers are going solo? It’s a mixed bag, now more than ever. As far as younger travellers go, according to data from the Abta, almost one in eight 18-24 year olds reported going on a holiday by themselves in 2017. In 2011, this question was asked to 15-24 year olds and the figure was just 4.5 per cent. Cruising: surprisingly singles-friendly According to Hostelworld, the number of solo bookings made by Britons has increased 60 per cent over the past three years, the highest rise globally. Singles holiday operator Just You says the age of their clientele ranges from 21 to 90, but averages out at the 55+ age group. What does appear to be consistent, however, is that women are much more likely to travel alone than men, and that’s only rising. Hitwise says that since January, the audiences driving searches for solo travel have been women (55 per cent of them) aged between 25-34 years old and living in London. Top 5 | Women who will inspire you to set off on an adventure Unique Home Stays says that in 2015, the average age of its solo traveller was 46, made up of 22 per cent men and 78 per cent women. In 2017, the average age was 47, with 84 per cent being female, and only 16 per cent being male. Writing for The Telegraph earlier this year about her decision to set off alone, Suzanne Joinson remarked: “In the past, the idea of women going on solo adventures was considered ‘brave’, ‘eccentric’ or ‘risky’. But [there has since] been a huge shift in attitude. “A hike into the wilderness is what I need; it will be a balm for my rotten, digitally toxic soul. But taking family with me would just be more logistics to contend with and if I went with a friend we’d inevitably end up stopping at a pub, eating pie, sipping prosecco and talking rubbish, which is the opposite of what I am looking for. I need peace. I need quiet. And most of all, I really, really need to be alone.” When do solo travellers prefer to set off? When the masses aren’t, we were told by a fair few companies. Discount travel site HolidayPirates, for one, stated: “The vast majority of solo bookings are off-season - May, October and November. Less than one per cent of them travel in July or August.” You needn't even leave the UK Credit: Getty Solo by choice, or by circumstance? If you’re roaming the world alone, you’ll fall into one of two categories: someone who simply doesn’t have a companion to join them on their travels, or someone who actively chooses not to bring along friends or a spouse. More people today, it should be noted, remain single for longer, or indeed forever. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that 51 per cent of people in England and Wales were single in 2011, the last time a census was published, compared to 47 per cent in 2001. We polled a Facebook group consisting of hundreds of female writers and heard from countless single women who travel alone. But we also spoke to several who were married or otherwise attached, and actively choose to leave their other-halves at home when travelling. solo travel adventures Writer Tash Nikolovski, 28, said of her six-month solo tour of Latin America: “It probably seems a little unconventional to travel without your partner for six months, but it was something that meant a lot to me," she says. “I'd made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen - like saving for over a year, learning Spanish, mentally preparing to leave my job - so throwing the trip away because I'd met someone just wasn't an option, and he understood that.” She was in good company, as it turned out. “What struck me the most was the amount of other females that I'd met travelling alone in the same boat - way more than guys - who all had boyfriends at home, and were taking trips on their own,” she remarks. This works both ways, of course. Another writer, Claire Mason, said her husband went to India for five weeks after quitting a 30-year career in India in advertising, while she stayed home. Voyaging alone: is it good for you? Psychotherapist Tony Ingham was one of the many we asked in his field who came back with a resounding yes. It provides a break from monotony, he explains, builds confidence and exposes you to people and places you’d otherwise never cross. But most of us know this. Perhaps one of the most overlooked downsides however, are the very real re-entry blues. “Frequently I work with people who have had the most exceptional experience on their travels and find the return home disappointing,” he says. Naturally, going solo can be difficult for the less-social travellers among us. “More introverted people can become anxious, and retreat into their shells,” Ingham confirms. But should they go for it anyway? Arguably. A recent Booking.com survey found that a substantial 71 per cent of global travellers have had regrets over missed travel opportunities. Hard to beat Credit: Getty Generation Z (18-24 year olds) were found to be the most willing to face their travel anxieties head-on, with two thirds managing to overcome their concerns. For many, that means setting off alone even if you’d rather have a friend. Working remotely As technology continues to free up the way people work, more and more of us are finding it’s now possible to combine a job with travel by operating remotely. Gemma Thompson, founder of travel advice website Girls That Travel, told The Telegraph: “Many travellers are doing well in a career, but they feel it doesn't fulfil them. But the way we work is changing. It’s more acceptable to take time out for yourself. In fact, we should all do it at least once in our lives. It gives us the gift of clear thinking time, and being in an environment like that builds self-confidence like nothing else.” Beware the sand Credit: Getty We spoke to PR executive Sarika Patel, who has just embarked on a solo expedition to Thailand, but isn’t taking time off to do so. “When you're single and in your thirties, the choice is usually 'travel alone' or 'don't travel' - so I choose travel,” she says. “I’m off to Southeast Asia with no change to my work routine and 'minimal disruption' assured to my clients. I had to persuade them that I'd be just as effective from there.” What are the pitfalls of travelling solo When Lonely Planet quizzed more than 4,000 of its members this year, four out of five have either had or were planning a solo trip. Disappointingly, a third of them said they’d felt disadvantaged by choosing to travel alone. Half of them, for example, have had to pay a single person supplement as a result of going solo. Telegraph Travel’s consumer expert Nick Trend explains: “The argument goes like this. Holidays are usually priced per person based on two people sharing a twin or double room. When a single person books, many tour operators levy an extra charge. They argue that they have to charge extra because singles are a less attractive commercial proposition for them. Among other aspects, single travellers spend less money in the restaurant and bar than couples.” Solo advice | Six ways to avoid a single supplement A compromise? For those travelling solo by circumstance rather than choice, there is a middle way. Small group package tours made up of strangers are proving themselves popular. Mandy Appleyard, who wrote for Telegraph Travel about a trip to India, explains: “I am single, intrepid and a lover of remote, long-haul exotic destinations. I don’t usually travel with close friends because, variously, they want to sleep on a sun lounger for a fortnight, won’t catch a flight longer than two hours or don’t want to travel where vaccinations are required. “As I grow older and less compromising, I’ve found it suits me to do small group holidays: there’s company if I want it (at dinner, I always do), but also the opportunity to be separate without offending anyone. There’s a strong chance you’ll meet like-minded people, and for me the mix of the social and the solitary works well.” Solo travel expert Gill Charlton agees, noting: “Some of the best holidays I’ve had have been those where I have set off on my own and travelled with strangers. Experience has shown me that I’ll find like-minded companions in any group. Statistics tell us that one in four British adults has never married or is divorced or widowed. Add to these singletons all those keen travellers whose partners either cannot or will not join them, and that’s a huge potential market.” India's Taj Mahal Credit: Getty Considering taking the plunge? Telegraph Travel has created a new channel especially for solo travellers. Just visit telegraph.co.uk/travel/solo-travel for inspiration, news and advice.
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Lee Bowyer issues ultimatum to Charlton over manager's job
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Charlton moved by brothers' tribute
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Charlton moved by brothers' tribute
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Charlton moved by brothers' tribute
Tommy Charlton, who is playing in a walking football match, gets emotional following messages of support from his brothers.
Arsenal have suspended two of their most prominent academy coaches, Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman, after allegations of bullying. Gatting, who is the Under-23s head coach, and his assistant Laraman are the focus for an internal investigation that began after a series of complaints were made by some players at the club. It is understood that the action was taken around two weeks ago in relation to complaints about a number of incidents, although the precise nature of the allegations are unknown. Arsenal Under-18s coach Kwame Ampadu oversaw the Under-23 team in Tuesday’s Premier League International Cup final defeat against Porto at The Emirates. Under Gatting and Laraman, the Under-23 side have won the Premier League 2 competition this season after winning 13 out of 22 and finishing two points above Liverpool. They were also one of 24 teams from England and mainland Europe to play in the International Cup, beating Villarreal, Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb en route to the final. Gatting, 59, made 76 appearances for Arsenal between 1977 and 1981 and was part of the team that reached three consecutive FA Cup finals. He also played for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 FA Cup final. The brother of former England cricket captain Mike, Gatting joined Arsenal’s coaching staff for a second spell in 2007. Ivan Gazidis has specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images Laraman, 56, joined Arsenal from Charlton in the summer of 2010 and previously ran coaching programmes for children ranging from Under-9 up to Under-13 level. He also oversaw the Under-18s team when they reached the semi-finals of the Youth Cup. A club source told the Islington Gazette that the two coaches were “under investigations for complaints of bullying”. An Arsenal spokesman confirmed that the club had suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players. “These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail,” said the spokesman. Per Mertesacker will be taking over the academy from next season after retiring as a player. The previous academy manager, Andries Jonker, left in February of last year. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level when Arsène Wenger’s departure was confirmed and one of the core expectations for the next Arsenal manager is a willingness to give the best young players a first-team chance. “Under the radar, we’ve got a lot of players coming through – not just ones that you already know about but the next generation, as well,” said Gazidis. “That value of giving youth a chance is very important.” With Wenger’s tenure as manager ending at Huddersfield on Sunday, a series of other changes will be made to the coaching staff this summer. First-team coach Boro Primorac, fitness coach Tony Colbert and goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton are all expected to leave but Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann are likely to be asked to stay. Arsenal do want to retain coaches with a strong Arsenal link in the first-team set-up, although final decisions will also rest on who is appointed as the club’s next manager.
Arsenal suspend two academy coaches over bullying accusations
Arsenal have suspended two of their most prominent academy coaches, Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman, after allegations of bullying. Gatting, who is the Under-23s head coach, and his assistant Laraman are the focus for an internal investigation that began after a series of complaints were made by some players at the club. It is understood that the action was taken around two weeks ago in relation to complaints about a number of incidents, although the precise nature of the allegations are unknown. Arsenal Under-18s coach Kwame Ampadu oversaw the Under-23 team in Tuesday’s Premier League International Cup final defeat against Porto at The Emirates. Under Gatting and Laraman, the Under-23 side have won the Premier League 2 competition this season after winning 13 out of 22 and finishing two points above Liverpool. They were also one of 24 teams from England and mainland Europe to play in the International Cup, beating Villarreal, Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb en route to the final. Gatting, 59, made 76 appearances for Arsenal between 1977 and 1981 and was part of the team that reached three consecutive FA Cup finals. He also played for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 FA Cup final. The brother of former England cricket captain Mike, Gatting joined Arsenal’s coaching staff for a second spell in 2007. Ivan Gazidis has specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images Laraman, 56, joined Arsenal from Charlton in the summer of 2010 and previously ran coaching programmes for children ranging from Under-9 up to Under-13 level. He also oversaw the Under-18s team when they reached the semi-finals of the Youth Cup. A club source told the Islington Gazette that the two coaches were “under investigations for complaints of bullying”. An Arsenal spokesman confirmed that the club had suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players. “These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail,” said the spokesman. Per Mertesacker will be taking over the academy from next season after retiring as a player. The previous academy manager, Andries Jonker, left in February of last year. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level when Arsène Wenger’s departure was confirmed and one of the core expectations for the next Arsenal manager is a willingness to give the best young players a first-team chance. “Under the radar, we’ve got a lot of players coming through – not just ones that you already know about but the next generation, as well,” said Gazidis. “That value of giving youth a chance is very important.” With Wenger’s tenure as manager ending at Huddersfield on Sunday, a series of other changes will be made to the coaching staff this summer. First-team coach Boro Primorac, fitness coach Tony Colbert and goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton are all expected to leave but Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann are likely to be asked to stay. Arsenal do want to retain coaches with a strong Arsenal link in the first-team set-up, although final decisions will also rest on who is appointed as the club’s next manager.
Arsenal have suspended two of their most prominent academy coaches, Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman, after allegations of bullying. Gatting, who is the Under-23s head coach, and his assistant Laraman are the focus for an internal investigation that began after a series of complaints were made by some players at the club. It is understood that the action was taken around two weeks ago in relation to complaints about a number of incidents, although the precise nature of the allegations are unknown. Arsenal Under-18s coach Kwame Ampadu oversaw the Under-23 team in Tuesday’s Premier League International Cup final defeat against Porto at The Emirates. Under Gatting and Laraman, the Under-23 side have won the Premier League 2 competition this season after winning 13 out of 22 and finishing two points above Liverpool. They were also one of 24 teams from England and mainland Europe to play in the International Cup, beating Villarreal, Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb en route to the final. Gatting, 59, made 76 appearances for Arsenal between 1977 and 1981 and was part of the team that reached three consecutive FA Cup finals. He also played for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 FA Cup final. The brother of former England cricket captain Mike, Gatting joined Arsenal’s coaching staff for a second spell in 2007. Ivan Gazidis has specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images Laraman, 56, joined Arsenal from Charlton in the summer of 2010 and previously ran coaching programmes for children ranging from Under-9 up to Under-13 level. He also oversaw the Under-18s team when they reached the semi-finals of the Youth Cup. A club source told the Islington Gazette that the two coaches were “under investigations for complaints of bullying”. An Arsenal spokesman confirmed that the club had suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players. “These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail,” said the spokesman. Per Mertesacker will be taking over the academy from next season after retiring as a player. The previous academy manager, Andries Jonker, left in February of last year. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level when Arsène Wenger’s departure was confirmed and one of the core expectations for the next Arsenal manager is a willingness to give the best young players a first-team chance. “Under the radar, we’ve got a lot of players coming through – not just ones that you already know about but the next generation, as well,” said Gazidis. “That value of giving youth a chance is very important.” With Wenger’s tenure as manager ending at Huddersfield on Sunday, a series of other changes will be made to the coaching staff this summer. First-team coach Boro Primorac, fitness coach Tony Colbert and goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton are all expected to leave but Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann are likely to be asked to stay. Arsenal do want to retain coaches with a strong Arsenal link in the first-team set-up, although final decisions will also rest on who is appointed as the club’s next manager.
Arsenal suspend two academy coaches over bullying accusations
Arsenal have suspended two of their most prominent academy coaches, Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman, after allegations of bullying. Gatting, who is the Under-23s head coach, and his assistant Laraman are the focus for an internal investigation that began after a series of complaints were made by some players at the club. It is understood that the action was taken around two weeks ago in relation to complaints about a number of incidents, although the precise nature of the allegations are unknown. Arsenal Under-18s coach Kwame Ampadu oversaw the Under-23 team in Tuesday’s Premier League International Cup final defeat against Porto at The Emirates. Under Gatting and Laraman, the Under-23 side have won the Premier League 2 competition this season after winning 13 out of 22 and finishing two points above Liverpool. They were also one of 24 teams from England and mainland Europe to play in the International Cup, beating Villarreal, Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb en route to the final. Gatting, 59, made 76 appearances for Arsenal between 1977 and 1981 and was part of the team that reached three consecutive FA Cup finals. He also played for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 1983 FA Cup final. The brother of former England cricket captain Mike, Gatting joined Arsenal’s coaching staff for a second spell in 2007. Ivan Gazidis has specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images Laraman, 56, joined Arsenal from Charlton in the summer of 2010 and previously ran coaching programmes for children ranging from Under-9 up to Under-13 level. He also oversaw the Under-18s team when they reached the semi-finals of the Youth Cup. A club source told the Islington Gazette that the two coaches were “under investigations for complaints of bullying”. An Arsenal spokesman confirmed that the club had suspended two coaches and launched an investigation following complaints from some players. “These are private matters and we will not discuss any further detail,” said the spokesman. Per Mertesacker will be taking over the academy from next season after retiring as a player. The previous academy manager, Andries Jonker, left in February of last year. Chief executive Ivan Gazidis had specifically highlighted the club’s progress at academy level when Arsène Wenger’s departure was confirmed and one of the core expectations for the next Arsenal manager is a willingness to give the best young players a first-team chance. “Under the radar, we’ve got a lot of players coming through – not just ones that you already know about but the next generation, as well,” said Gazidis. “That value of giving youth a chance is very important.” With Wenger’s tenure as manager ending at Huddersfield on Sunday, a series of other changes will be made to the coaching staff this summer. First-team coach Boro Primorac, fitness coach Tony Colbert and goalkeeping coach Gerry Peyton are all expected to leave but Steve Bould and Jens Lehmann are likely to be asked to stay. Arsenal do want to retain coaches with a strong Arsenal link in the first-team set-up, although final decisions will also rest on who is appointed as the club’s next manager.
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Alou Diarra passes the impossible quiz
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Alou Diarra passes the impossible quiz
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Alou Diarra passes the impossible quiz
Known for his time at Bordeaux and Marseille, Alou Diarra also had stints at West Ham and Charlton FC. The former France international tries the impossible quiz.
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Australian tycoon Andrew Muir at Charlton with takeover deal in sight
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton 0 Shrewsbury 1: Jon Nolan strike gives Shrews play-off semi-final lead
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton vs Shrewsbury: Lee Bowyer happy to ditch his fishing rods in bid to catch out promotion rivals
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
Charlton boost as Tariqe Fosu makes rapid recovery ahead of play-off semi-final
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Superb Chelsea lift Women's FA Cup as Ramona Bachmann strikes twice to sink Arsenal at Wembley
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Superb Chelsea lift Women's FA Cup as Ramona Bachmann strikes twice to sink Arsenal at Wembley
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Superb Chelsea lift Women's FA Cup as Ramona Bachmann strikes twice to sink Arsenal at Wembley
It will not be easy for Emma Hayes to enjoy the post-match party given she struggled to get to her feet to celebrate any of the goals, but Chelsea’s manager could be heading into maternity leave by leading her side to a league and cup double. Hayes was many people’s choice to succeed Mark Sampson as England manager when he was sacked last year, but she did not put her name forward for the role and will instead start a family. To still be at work in her condition is impressive enough, but eight months pregnant, on a sweltering day, Hayes also managed to mastermind a cup final victory, in front of a record domestic crowd for a women’s game, thanks to two second-half goals from Ramona Bachmann and a wonderful solo effort from Fran Kirby. The 41-year-old had initially been expected to watch the game from the stands, but she could not allow herself to be so detached, instead taking a seat on the edge of the dugout, sipping water throughout, as Chelsea secured only their second FA Cup Final win. The league title may well follow. Hayes’ side are level on points with their big rivals Manchester City the final four games in the title race will be just as tense. She will hope the twins postpone their arrival long enough to enable her to lead the team until season’s climax. Bachmann's two goals proved decisive at Wembley Credit: REUTERS “It was such a dominant performance from us,” said Hayes. “Which was great, because the last thing I needed was anything too nervy. I’ve not been that relaxed for a while in a final. “We’ve got another important game on Wednesday night and I think my celebrations will be carried out while I’m horizontal. It will probably be different for the others, but I’ve got to make sure I get to Wednesday and I’m able to be involved.” “The goals came at the perfect time for us, but I think the quality of the goals shows the different between the two sides. I’m just so pleased we’ve done this in front of a record crowd.” Chelsea deserved their win, the quality of their performance epitomised by England international Kirby, who was by far the best player on the pitch, her sublime third goal killing off an Arsenal comeback before it had gained any real momentum. The Gunners are English football’s cup specialists, but they were overwhelmed, with Kirby at the centre of everything good about their opponent’s display. The FA Cup has been Arsenal’s property, occasionally borrowed by one of their rivals, but with 14 final victories behind them, this is their competition. Perhaps not anymore. The outstanding Fran Kirby finished the game off with a superb goal Credit: REUTERS They started strongly, Beth Mead and Jordan Nobbs causing havoc down the flanks as the Chelsea defence was pulled and stretched, but it did not break. Surviving that early pressure, Chelsea began to cause problems of their own, with PFA and FWA player of the year, Kirby, twisting her way through the Arsenal defence, teeing up Ramona Bachmann. The shot had plenty of power but not the placement to go with it. Arsenal responded, a Jordan Nobbs free kick headed over by Jordan Quinn when she should have tested goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. It began to resemble a basketball game, the action flying from one end of the pitch to the other as Holland international Vivianne Miedema saw a shot deflected agonisingly wide at the end of some patient Arsenal play. Again Chelsea rallied, Kirby forcing a decent save after some more impressive footwork gave her room to get a shot away. There had been less than half an hour played and barely a pause in the action. Things calmed down, the frenetic pace of the early exchanges forcing a slow-down, as well as the heat. That appeared to suit Chelsea, but they could not make the most of their possession, South Korea international Ji So Yun lifting a shot over the bar. Chelsea could now seal a domestic double by winning their second WSL title Credit: CHELSEA FC They would not keep missing though and when Kirby squeezed a through ball into the path of Bachmann, she lashed a shot into the roof of the net. Chelsea scored a swift second, Bachmann’s deflected shot looping over the head of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal, but Arsenal hit back as Mead’s run and cross teed up Miedema for a simple finish. Arsenal had hope but it was extinguished by Kirby, cutting inside on her right foot before catching the ball perfectly with her left to curl inside the far post. “They are a powerful team, a strong team and they have quality players who are used to playing on the big stage,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro. “But in the ten weeks I’ve been here, we have reached two cup finals and I’m very proud of that. “We’ve lost this one and won the other, we still have some work to do, but the more we play these big games the more we will learn.” 7:24PM Full time! Chelsea have won the Women's FA Cup for the second time! They simply had too much quality from back to front, and Ramona Bachmann's two goals put them in a commanding position. That's the first of what could be a domestic double! 7:20PM 90 min +3 Here's Fran Kirby icing the cake for Chelsea: BUT WAIT. @ChelseaLFC and @frankirby have answered back straight away!!! �� (Arsenal 1-3 Chelsea) LIVE on @BBCOnepic.twitter.com/EwHyVZBFe2— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 7:19PM 90 min +1 Aluko races down the right and, from a similar position to Bachmann's opener, fires in a right-foot shot that Van Veenendaal turns round the post. 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Latest score: Arsenal 1 (Miedema 74) Chelsea 3 (Bachmann 48, 60, Kirby 76) 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Arsenal vs Chelsea, Women's FA Cup final: live updates
Latest score: Arsenal 1 (Miedema 74) Chelsea 3 (Bachmann 48, 60, Kirby 76) 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Latest score: Arsenal 1 (Miedema 74) Chelsea 3 (Bachmann 48, 60, Kirby 76) 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.
Arsenal vs Chelsea, Women's FA Cup final: live updates
Latest score: Arsenal 1 (Miedema 74) Chelsea 3 (Bachmann 48, 60, Kirby 76) 7:18PM 90 min Cuthbert earns a Chelsea free-kick right in the corner, which they sensibly play short. Five minutes of added time. 7:16PM 87 min Arsenal summoning the kitchen sink to throw at Chelsea, but the Blues look rock solid from their midfield backwards. 7:12PM 83 min Double change for Arsenal: on come Dan Carter and Katie McCabe in the final throw of Joe Montemurro's dice - Emma Mitchell and Lisa Evans make way. For Chelsea, on comes Eni Aluko for two-goal Ramona Bachmann, who gets a deserved ovation. 7:05PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 Chelsea 3 (Kirby 76 min) What a lovely goal! Fran Kirby, who has threatened to do something special all afternoon, finds a pocket of space on the edfge of the box and bends a perfect left-foot shot into the far corner! Game, surely now, over. 7:03PM 75 min Chelsea change: Erin Cuthbert replaces the tireless Drew Spence. 7:02PM GOAL! Arsenal 1 (Miedema) Chelsea 2 HELLO! Beth Mead sneaks in from the left, finds Vivianne Miedema and the Dutchwoman steers a left-foot shot past Lindahl! Game on? 6:58PM 70 min Chelsea change: on comes Maria Thorisdottir to replace Jonna Andersson on the left of defence. 6:56PM 68 min Chelsea looking to slow the game down, use the space and exploit those tiring Arsenal legs that are chasing this game. Really hard to see the Gunners getting back into this now. 6:52PM 63 min Change for Arsenal: off goes Janssen, the holding midfielder, and on comes 231-cap former USA international Heather O'Reilly. Experienced? Just a bit. 6:48PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 2 (Bachmann, 60 min) Out of nothing, Chelsea have doubled their lead! Ramona Bachmann cuts in from the right, swipes her left boot at the ball and it deflects up and into the far corner! 6:44PM 56 min CHANCE! Kim Little charges through the middle, finds Miedema, but the Dutch international doesn't get her shot away in time. 6:42PM 53 min Danielle van de Donk takes out Chelsea skipper Katie Chapman, which sparks the first minor disagreement of the match. Chelsea force a corner from the long, searching free kick, which Arsenal clear. 6:39PM 51 min Arsenal respond. Beth Mead's deflected shot squirms towards Hedvig Lindahl, who spills it before its put behind for a corner. Chelsea survive. 6:36PM GOAL! Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1 (Bachmann, 48 min) Bachmann leads a Chelsea counter, but Emma Mitchell has just enough pace to hold off Kirby. From the throw-in, the ball is slipped into Bachmann on her right foot, she takes one touch to gather, another to set up the shot, and she lashes the ball into the roof of the net! 6:33PM We go again Not sure if the tempo of the first half can prevail in the May sunshine, but we'll see... 6:19PM Half time A free-flowing first half, but one in which Arsenal failed to muster a single shot on target. For Chelsea, Bachmann and Kirby - and, to a increasing extent, Ji - have had a huge influence up front, but still haven't made Van Veenendaal work too hard in the Arsenal goal. Something has to give in the second half...or extra time....or penalties. 6:17PM 45 min +1 One added minute. 6:16PM 45 min CHANCE! The best move of the half, involving Bachmann and Kirby, leads to Ji racing through on the overlap and slapping a shot just over the Arsenal bar. 6:15PM 44 min More intricate Chelsea interplay on the edge of the box leads to Ji So-yun being fouled by Dominique Janssen. Magdelena Eriksson and Ji stand over the ball....the Korean takes...but it hits the wall, and Van Veenendaal gathers her tame second bite at the cherry. 6:11PM 40 min Where now? Thoughts might start to turn to the respective benches: Arsenal have the 2016 final goalscorer Dan Carter in reserve, while Chelsea have Eni Aluko ready to come on at some point. Both are capable of locating the scruff of this game's neck. 6:05PM 35 min Decent atmosphere at Wembley: WEMBLEY IS ROCKING ����#ssewomensfacuppic.twitter.com/pz7g1AEZKX— The SSE Women's FA Cup (@SSEWomensFACup) May 5, 2018 6:04PM 32 min Kirby tries a one-two with Hannah Blundell, who advances all the way from right back to join in, but the return pass is just out of reach. The Chelsea no.14 looks the most likely to break the deadlock, it's fair to say. 6:01PM 30 min Wembley enjoying a Mexican wave, as the first half peters out a little. Bachmann and Kirby try to combine again, but Arsenal are alert. 5:58PM 27 min Another sight of goal for Kirby, who lets fly with the left foot, but it's gathered well by Van Veenendaal. 5:56PM 25 min Bachmann skips down the right, only to be dragged back quite blatantly by Emma Mitchell. It should be a yellow card, but instead is just a talking-to. Lenient stuff from the Durham official. 5:54PM 23 min Drew Spence flattens Miedema with a tasty tackle on halfway, which the referee stands and admires. Chelsea have weathered this brief Arsenal storm quite well. 5:52PM 20 min Arsenal skipper Kim Little clips in a cross to the back post, which is helped on its way behind by a Chelsea head - corner. Nobbs floats it in, there's a brief scramble, and then Miedema's shot is deflected just wide! 5:49PM 18 min CHANCE! A cross from the left is eventually brought under control by Kirby in the Arsenal area, but she dallies too long and the shot is blocked. Chelsea have now had three presentable chances and squandered them all. 5:46PM 14 min The ball bounces over the head of Millie Bright, and Arsenal's Beth Mead can run through on goal...until she's caught by Bright and held up. An anxious moment for the Chelsea no.4. 5:43PM 12 min Frank Kirby is now, suddenly, running this final for Chelsea. She twists and turns in the Arsenal area, but has only Bachmann for support and Arsenal scramble it away. 5:41PM 9 min CHANCE! Bachmann works the ball superbly on to her right foot in the area, nutmegging Emma Mitchell in the process, but fires wide with only Sari van Veenendaal to beat! 5:39PM 7 min Arsenal's Vivianne Miedema presses earnestly to unnerve the Chelsea defence into a mistake in their own half, but blue shirts scamper back to avoid a real emergency. Arsenal certainly looking more dangerous so far... 5:36PM 5 min Chelsea's turn to attack, with Drew Spence down the right, but she can't find a blue shirt in the middle. Plenty of space to exploit for both sides in the wide areas. 5:34PM 2 min Both teams enjoy some nerve-settling spells on the ball, before Arsenal look to release the pace of Beth Mead down the left. Chelsea deal with the early threat. 5:32PM Kick off! Chelsea - in blue, naturally - get us going and Ramona Bachmann gets the first touch of the 2018 final... 5:26PM The teams are out at Wembley... ...so a few dignitaries, handshakes, the national anthem and all that, and we'll soon be good to go! 5:23PM Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro: Obviously our tradition as cup specialists is there - thanks for the pressure! - but cup finals are cup finals, and it’s on the day. We’ve been part of many fantastic events, and hopefully this is another one. Chelsea are a very good side, with cover and power all over the pitch, and whatever starting XI they put out is very strong. Some of the best players in the world are out there on show, and it’s going to be an amazing event. 5:23PM Emma Hayes' pre-match words: This is what we work hard for, when you’re freezing cold in January and you don’t want to come out training. I’m proud of the players, and equally to think we’re playing in front of a record crowd, which importantly shows the growth of the game. Our side is experienced and accustomed to high-level games on a regular basis, both internationally and at club level. But it counts for nothing in a single game. It’s whoever shows up on the day. 5:10PM Recent decent Here's what happened when these two last met in the Cup final at Wembley - just 24 months ago, in fact. An absolute pearler from Arsenal's Dan Carter decided matters that day: 4:59PM Road to the final Arsenal Fourth Round: beat Yeovil 3-0 Fifth Round: beat Millwall 1-0 Quarter-final: beat Charlton 5-0 Semi-final: beat Everton 2-1 Arsenal and Chelsea reached the final by a combined aggregate score of 32-1 Credit: PA Chelsea Fourth Round: beat London Bees 10-0 Fifth Round: beat Doncaster Rovers Belles 6-0 Quarter-final: beat Liverpool 3-0 Semi-final: beat Manchester City 2-0 4:46PM Team news! Arsenal: Van Veenendaal, Evans, Williamson, Quinn, Mitchell, Janssen, Van de Donk, Little, Nobbs, Mead, Miedema. Subs: Moorhouse, Samuelsson, McCabe, O’Reilly, Carter. Chelsea: Lindahl, Bright, Mjelde, Eriksson, Blundell, Ji, Chapman, Andersson, Spence, Kirby, Bachmann. Subs: Telford, Thorisdottir, Flaherty, Aluko, Cuthbert. Referee: Lindsey Robinson 4:46PM The lowdown London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea go head to head today at Wembley in the 2018 Women's FA Cup Final. Arsenal are looking for a 15th FA Cup victory while Chelsea, in their fourth final to date, are aiming for revenge for defeat to the Gunners in 2016. More importantly, though, the Blues are on course for a league and cup double: they are three points clear at the top of the Women's Super League, while Arsenal trail in fourth. The two teams will be playing in front of a record-breaking Wembley crowd: more than 45,000 tickets have been sold, an all-time best for the Women's FA Cup. Emma Hayes is carrying twins, and will take a background role at Wembley Credit: CHELSEA FC Chelsea's manager Emma Hayes has opted not to lead her team out of the tunnel but, despite being 33 weeks pregnant with twins, will be pitchside to organise her players. “I’ve been told to take it easy and there is enough stress on the day already. Physically, it’s uncomfortable for me at the moment so it’s better that I stay in the background,” says Chelsea’s manager. “It’s better for my babies if I sit down. I don’t mind, I’m a woman, I don’t have a big ego!” Kick-off at the national stadium is at 5.30pm, with coverage on BBC One from 5.10pm and, of course, our liveblog right here.

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