The FA Cup final is one of the highlights of the football calendar. Although some will claim it has lost some of its magic, it will be special for the supporters of Chelsea and Leicester City this weekend. There will be some fans back in the stadium to enjoy Brendan Rodgers and Thomas Tuchel both trying to win their first trophy at their clubs. The occasion is one to whet the appetite of Chelsea supporters, as they have a bigger match upcoming in the Champions League final. However, for the Foxes, this is very much the main event of their season and they will be desperate to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
Chelsea have the opportunity to move clear of Tottenham as the third most successful club in the competition’s history with their ninth FA Cup victory on Saturday. They were losing finalists last season under Frank Lampard and they will be determined to come out on top this time around. Tuchel will know the importance of bouncing back from the midweek league defeat to Arsenal, as his team need to take momentum into the rest of their campaign. The Blues still need to secure their top four position in the league and have the opportunity to lift their second European Cup. A win in the FA Cup final will give players the belief they can finish the season successfully.
The recent performances from Leicester City have been worrying, as they have started to stutter and their own top four position isn’t secure yet. During the week, they beat a second string Manchester United team, which will give them belief going into the weekend. Rodgers will know that his side aren’t at their best at the moment, but the opportunity to lift a trophy should motivate them to perform better on Saturday. Some in the squad played a part in the club’s surprise title victory in 2016 and they will be keen to add more silverware to their collection.
Only Arsenal (21) and Manchester United (20) have appeared in more FA Cup finals than Chelsea. The Blues have reached this stage 15 times.
Leicester City have appeared in the FA Cup final on four occasions. This is the most of any team that hasn’t lifted the trophy.
It has been a difficult first season for Timo Werner, but he has an opportunity to rewrite the narrative going into the summer if he performs well in Chelsea’s final four matches of the season. He has surpassed ten goals and ten assists across all competitions this season, with two goals and two assists in his last five matches. Despite his inconsistent form, he has contributed positively to the team and he will carry a big threat in the two upcoming finals. Leicester City showed last Friday against Newcastle that they struggle against pace on the counter attack. Werner’s pace, movement and directness will cause the Foxes a lot of problems on Saturday. He has the quality to play a match-winning role. Following his assist against Manchester City, he will be growing in confidence and he will want to leave his mark on the upcoming season-defining matches. There are still some concerns about his ability to stay onside and confidence in front of goal, but he has the physical attributes to expose Leicester’s weaknesses. He could play a key role in the FA Cup final.
There is no doubting the form that Kelechi Iheanacho is in. The Nigerian international is one of the most in-form players in the Premier League, with six goals and two assists in his last seven matches across all competitions. This included the winning goal at Wembley in the previous round, highlighting his ability to impact the big matches. It has been an exceptional second half of the season for the 24–year-old, who is stepping up during a period where the goals have run dry for Jamie Vardy. There will still be a role for the club’s talisman over the next couple of years, but Iheanacho is showing that they no longer need to be reliant on him. Chelsea have been excellent at the back under Thomas Tuchel. That said, Leicester’s in-form forward is capable of picking up pockets of space and causing problems for them. They will be very wary of the pace of Vardy, but they shouldn’t allow that to distract them from his strike partner, as Iheanacho is on fire.
Mateo Kovacic, N’Golo Kante and Andreas Christensen are all doubts with various niggles. Thomas Tuchel won’t gamble on the fitness of any of them, especially with the Champions League final on the horizon. Timo Werner, Antonio Rudiger and Edouard Mendy could all return to the starting eleven after being rested in the week.
Jonny Evans is facing a battle to prove his fitness after missing the last two matches. James Justin, Wes Morgan and Harvey Barnes remain long term absentees.
This should be a fascinating encounter, especially as the two teams meet days later in the Premier League. It is likely to be a tight game with little in the game, due to Chelsea’s defensive quality. Leicester haven’t been free scoring in recent weeks and they will want to keep it a game of small margins. Despite their defeat in the week, Chelsea have been excellent in big matches under Tuchel and they should have the quality to lift their first trophy under the German. Leicester have been less impressive in recent weeks and unless there is an improvement, they may extend their losing run in FA Cup finals.
Chelsea 1-0 Leicester City