For the first time in more than 50 years, Leicester City booked their place in the FA Cup final. A 1-0 win over Southampton in the semi-finals secured their progression to the Wembley Stadium showpiece. They’ll have their work cut out in the capital this weekend, however, to stop Thomas Tuchel’s side from winning the historic piece of silverware.
Given how well Chelsea are performing since Tuchel replaced Frank Lampard at the Stamford Bridge helm back in January, it’s no surprise that the west London side are the heavy favourites to win the FA Cup with the online betting sites.
FA Cup Final: Who holds the momentum?
But the momentum Chelsea gained going into the final after reaching the Champions League final and successive victories over Premier League champions Manchester City may be taking a hit at the wrong time; the Blues suffering defeat to Arsenal at Stamford Bridge mid-week.
Leicester, on the other hand, would have built some up some steam heading into their first FA Cup final since 1969. After looking set to miss out on a top-four finish following a draw with Southampton and defeat to Newcastle, Brendan Rodgers’ men got back on track for a Champions League spot; beating a weakened Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Before the mid-week games, you would have said that Chelsea had the upper hand heading to Wembley. Some of the more confident fans of the west London club may even argue that they already had one hand on the trophy before the game even kicked off.
The general consensus is that the defeat to Arsenal was just a minor blip in Chelsea’s run-in. And the current thinking is that it will have no snowball effect on them getting the better of Leicester; helping them to lift their ninth FA Cup trophy at Wembley on Saturday night.
Will the cup be heading back to Leicester?
This is one-off game, however. Often, in these circumstances, form goes out the window as players step up to the mark. The magic of the FA Cup means that we cannot rule out Leicester before the game even starts. And there’s no doubt their players will put their recent topsy-turvy form aside and their careers on the line for the badge tomorrow.
Even with the defeat to Arsenal, Chelsea will be a tough nut to crack. But the Foxes have proved a tricky opponent for Chelsea in the past. In fact, the Blues got the better of the East Midlands side on just two of their last seven outings; both of which were in the quarter-finals of this competition (2019-20 and 2017-18).
The other worry for Leicester is that this will be many of their players’ first time playing in such an occasion as the FA Cup final. That can lead to a nervy affair. For Chelsea, on the other hand, most of their squad tasted defeat last season to Arsenal. The likes of Mason Mount, Reece James, Christian Pulisic, Antonio Rüdiger — along with the others who featured in that game — will be more determined than ever to ensure that they are not dealt another bitter blow this year.
How can Leicester come out on top?
The key to Chelsea’s success could be keeping Kelechi Iheancho under wraps. The Nigerian has scored six goals in his last seven games. So, Leicester will definitely be hoping that he brings his shooting boots to Wembley tomorrow.
Every Leicester player will need to be at their best if they are to get the better of Chelsea. But Rodgers is clear that the might of the west London side won’t scare his men. And his side will embrace the challenge that lies in front of them.
“It’s a massive achievement [getting to the final],” the Northern Irish manager said after beating Southampton in the semi-finals. “But we have to be hungry and keep pushing. We’re embracing the challenge, and the players today were first class. We’re certainly not frightened by the challenge.”