Manchester City eye Wembley FA Cup final after a tumultuous 2019-20 season

When Manchester City forward Janine Beckie signed a two-year contract extension with the club in April, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were already being keenly felt.

With football postponed, the club sent her back to her family in the United States at the end of March for a break and she didn't return to England until the end of June -- the longest the 26-year-old had spent with her family since she was in high school.

- Stream FC Daily on ESPN+

In the time she was away, the Women's Super League (WSL) was cancelled and Chelsea were handed the title on a points-per-game basis. Following the departure of Nick Cushing in February after six-and-a-half years at the helm, the club also appointed a new manager in former Wales international Gareth Taylor.

"It just gave everyone this fresh perspective of why we loved to play the game and it's such a gift to be able to play especially at a team like City," she told ESPN of the break. "It gave everyone a renewed mindset coming into a new season.

"I'm just so grateful we get to play a normal season. Obviously last season got cut off which was unfortunate but hopefully we can make up for it this year.

"There's really no place I could imagine better than playing for Manchester City. The facilities, the investment, the level of the team.

"I'm not a huge statistics person but I want to score a lot of goals, I want to create a lot of goals for the team. We have an incredibly deep roster. It is a competitive XI to get into."

It has been a steady but far from emphatic start to the season for City so far with an opening day win against Aston Villa followed by a draw against Hope Powell's much improved Brighton side leaving them in sixth place.

While it may not be the beginning some were expecting after a summer of big signings -- Lucy Bronze, Chloe Kelly, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle all joined the squad -- it is also easy to forget that these games marked Taylor's first ever in charge of a women's team.

"I think obviously he took over the team in a really difficult place," Beckie said. "There were a few of us that knew him from being around the academy the last few years but we've also brought in a lot of new players that he will not have physically met until they're here ready to play.

"It's always difficult to transition managers because even just personality-wise Nick [Cushing] and Gareth [Taylor] are very different but I don't think change is a bad thing.

"He's very clear about what he wants and I think as a player that's good because there's no blurred lines. It's quite black and white. The way he wants us to play is definitely a style of really beautiful football that we're definitely capable of playing and I think fans will have seen us create so many chances through this new playing style and now it's just about that final piece."

For City, that final piece has been scoring goals. In the WSL, they have scored just two goals in their opening two games. Compare this to Arsenal's 15 and Chelsea's 10 in the same time and there is a considerable gap. It is something the team are aware of and working on according to Beckie.

"I think we have had to re-evaluate our ability to score goals," she said. "We're creating opportunities which is obviously fantastic but we need to flip the switch on finishing teams early."

That opportunity will come for the side to lay down a marker on Thursday when they face Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. The cup games are hangovers from last season after it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A win against the league leaders would set up a date with high-flying Everton in Wembley on Nov. 1.

While a glimpse at both side's recent results might make Arsenal favourites to win this tie, the north London side have lost on their last three visits to the Academy Stadium. The match also represents the last opportunity for either side to win any silverware from the 2019-20 season.