Chelsea vs Leicester City
Chelsea and Leicester City are ready for combat in the oldest cup competition in the football world on Saturday when they meet in the 140th FA Cup final.
The FA Cup has been the flagship domestic competition since the late 19th century. And this year it promises to be an entertaining clash between the Premier League’s third and fourth placed sides both blessed with an abundance of attacking flair and the prospect of a memorable end to the 2020/21 campaign.
Both teams are in a great position for a 2021/22 Champions League place as Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes are eight points clear of fifth-placed West Ham, while Chelsea are six clear. And while Liverpool are not yet out of the picture, Thomas Tuchel’s side has two bites of the cherry.
The Blues are on the brink of an historic cup double since they’re in the final of the Champions League after having beaten Real Madrid in the semifinals, and they have already beaten Manchester City, who they meet in the final twice in recent weeks.
The FA Cup 2021 betting odds back a Chelsea win. But with Leicester travelling to Wembley hoping for a first ever FA Cup win and on the back of a crucial league victory, they will face a real fight for the famous old trophy.
Chelsea ready to bounce back
The Blues still have some work to do to confirm their top four place after a midweek loss and they will be keen to get back on the winning trail on Saturday for two reasons.
Firstly to take home the silverware of course, but secondly, this is a bad time to embark on a losing run however small.
Tuchel says the Blues were not sharp enough during Wednesday’s defeat to Arsenal, and he has a point.
Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud hit the woodwork twice in a frantic finish, but Chelsea had gone badly off the boil after dominating the first half and going in to the break a goal down.
When the Blues met Manchester City in the Premier League recently, we saw the very best of Tuchel’s team as they more than matched the champions elect and delayed the Sky Blues’ celebration with a 2-1 win.
Hakim Ziyech was on target for the second time in two weeks against City, having previously scored the goal which put them out of the FA Cup – ending Pep Guardiola’s quadruple hopes.
Among Chelsea’s star-studded attack which contains Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, and Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech could be the man for the big occasion.
Regardless, Tuchel has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with Giroud who is a proven goal-scorer and Tammy Abraham, their top scorer with four goals in the competition so far.
Edouard Mendy is likely to take the goalkeeping responsibility after Kepa appeared in the defeat to Arsenal, and he might be a busy chap if Leicester’s front men have their shooting boots on.
Foxes can play without fear
Leicester all but secured their place in the 2021/22 Champions League with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Tuesday, a result which ended a 23-year wait for a win at Old Trafford and one which meant a lot to manager Brendan Rodgers and his players.
Having missed out on the top four place on the final day of last season, they are not about to repeat that disappointment.
While Jamie Vardy remains the main man up front, the form of Kelechi Iheanacho over recent weeks has been sensational in the league and he is top scoring in the cup with four goals.
Creative players Youri Tielemans and James Maddison will relish a role on the big stage while at the back, Leicester are hopeful that Jonny Evans will recover from a heel injury to partner Caglar Soyuncu.
Chelsea have had plenty of success against Leicester in the Premier League era, winning 19 of the 34 meetings to Leicester’s six and there have been nine draws.
Chelsea beat Leicester 1-0 in the 2020 FA Cup quarterfinal, but the Foxes beat the Blues 2-0 in January to go top of the Premier League and heap pressure on Chelsea’s then-manager Frank Lampard.
The London club are eight times holders of the FA Cup, last winning in 2018. And last year they were the beaten finalists, losing 2-1 to Arsenal as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a double.
But the Foxes are hoping to end a record they would rather not have. Leicester City have yet to win the FA Cup having reached the final four times – in 1949, 1961, 1963, and 1969.