English Premier League football returns to action this weekend, with some teams playing their second match of the week. However, for Chelsea and Leicester City fans, there’s cup fever in the air as their teams clash at Wembley Stadium. The FA Cup final will be played to a conclusion at the national stadium in London from 17:15 GMT on Saturday. Several fans will be permitted entry to the stadium in another test event for the upcoming Euro 2020 Championships and a step in the right direction for sports in the UK.
The head-to-head stats and recent form of both teams suggest we are in for a competitive final, but Leicester City has never recorded a victory over Chelsea in the FA Cup. Will that drought continue? If the Foxes were to end their wait, it would be the perfect time to do it. The competition stats show seven wins for the blues against two draws from nine previous encounters. In all competitions, Chelsea also dominates with 57 wins against 27 for Leicester and 34 draws.
Despite past performances against Chelsea, Leicester enters this final on the back of a stunning win over the blues when they last faced off. The Foxes eased to a 2-0 win in the Premier League back in January. That win at the King Power Stadium came thanks to goals from Ndidi and Maddison.
Fans back blues for cup success
Chelsea has a history of success in this competition, and fans will back the blues to continue their love affair with the competition on Saturday. The local side enters as favourites with most pundits to lift the trophy. Still, the Londoners and manager Thomas Tuchel know nothing can be taken for granted in a cup competition, especially in a final. Chelsea is going well in the Premier League and enter this match in excellent form, but the same can be said of their opponents. Take Leicester lightly, and they may be made to pay a hefty price.
The team from Stamford Bridge booked their place in the final with a battling 1-0 win over Manchester City in the semi-final at this venue. The underdogs eventually won a thrilling contest thanks to a stunning strike from Ziyech in the early exchanges of the second half. Despite chances for the Cityzens to get back into the game, Chelsea protected their lead and sneaked through to the last two. That result would have done wonders for team-morale ahead of the final.
Chelsea has also been battling along and will secure a top-four finish and place in the Champions League next season in the Premier League. The club has two routes into next season’s elite UEFA tournament as they are in the final of the Champions League later this month, where they will face Man City. It’s a critical few weeks for Chelsea, and they could kick start things in style by lifting the FA Cup. Doing so could help drive them to success in Europe over the Cityzens.
Foxes aiming to make history
Leicester City took the sports world by surprise when winning the Premier League title and have been able to build on that success at a steady rate. The Foxes haven’t challenged Man City and Liverpool for the title in recent years, but they can often be found mixing it at the top end of the table, competing for the prize places. This season Leicester are battling for a top-four finish and place in next term’s Champions League. To achieve that, they must hold their ground, beating off the attentions of West Ham and Liverpool.
The Foxes made it to the final with a narrow 1-0 win over Southampton in the semi-final last month. They had to roll up their sleeves and battle past the Saints but did so thanks to a strike from Iheanacho on 55 minutes. Manager Brendan Rodgers told members of the sporting press that his side has a chance to make history after the win. The Northern Irishman who guided Celtic to many trophies in Scottish football will hope to call on that experience to lift the most historic piece of silverware in world football on Saturday. There’s no reason why they can’t do that either.
Despite pushing for a top-four finish and occupying the prize places for much of the season, Leicester’s spot is under attack. They have left the door open for Liverpool and West Ham to challenge following a poor run of form. The Foxes entered the week, having won only two of their last five league games, losing two and drawing the spare. They lost 4-2 at home to Newcastle United despite goals for Albrighton and Iheanacho. The pressure is on to bounce back from that poor performance.
Chelsea vs Leicester prediction
This is what fans will refer to as a ‘proper’ FA Cup final. On paper, it looks to be a 50/50 game involving two sides that believe they are good enough to win the match and lift the cup. There is quality in the attack of both camps but also frailties in defence. That could make for a fascinating 90 minutes. Extra time and penalties are available if needed.
League form can usually be put to one side in cup finals, but followers may want to take clues from how both teams have fared in recent weeks. Chelsea started the week one place and one point better off than their opponents, but Leicester won the last game involving the teams. This has all the ingredients of a cracker, and it would be no surprise to see it tight in the closing stages.
FA Cup final odds
The pre-match betting for the FA Cup has Chelsea priced at odds of 1.92 for the win, with Leicester trading at 4.04. The draw is 3.5.
As well as match betting, there are also several specials, such as the first goalscorer, both teams to score and handicap. The lift the cup option covers you for extra time and penalties.
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