Date: Saturday 15th May 2021
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Kick-off: 17:15 BST
This evening’s game sees us take on Leicester at Wembley in this year’s FA Cup final – which might have been easier to look forward to if we hadn’t looked so poor a few days ago.
The defeat to Arsenal on Wednesday has been a tough one to take, not just because we’ve let the poorest of Arsenal sides do the double over us but more the manner of the defeat. God knows what Jorginho was playing at, Kepa might have kept it out initially but he was never going to keep his composure being put in that position. It won’t have helped his confidence though – or ours ahead of a final. We were awful, there was just nothing about us that resembled the side that had beaten Real Madrid and City.
It’s not like it could cost us a top four place is it though…
That’ the doom and gloom out of the way, back to today’s opponents, who beat Manchester United in their last game, or at least I think it was United. So, they are back above us, sitting third in the Premier League, and we play each other next, so something will give.
In the FA Cup, Leicester’s run to the final has seen them beat Stoke City, Brentford, Brighton, Manchester United then Southampton in the semi final. Chelsea have faced Morecambe, Luton, Barnsley, Sheffield United and finally Man City in the semi-final to get here. It’s Leicester’s first FA Cup final in 52 years as they try to break their duck, whilst for us, today marks our 15th FA Cup final appearance. Leicester have lost 10 of their previous 15 matches at Wembley and we lost in the final of this competition last season – to Arsenal.
Still, whatever happens today, will happen in front of about 20,000 fans now they’re allowed back inside Wembley – every cloud and all that.
Going into today’s game, Thomas Tuchel says “I am not in the mode to enjoy it yet. I still have a bit of a hangover from the last defeat. I am a bit angry. I am not angry at myself or the players, just that we got that result and missed an opportunity. Hopefully we can turn it into a good performance in preparation to push the team to the edge and let them play sharp. That’s my responsibility. We want to show a reaction and to have a reaction.
This is it. It is a big match. It is at Wembley in an FA Cup final. It is my first final here in England and it is huge. But I will not get carried away with emotions, I am fully focused to prepare my team better than we did two days ago. We all feel that anger on ourselves on the missed opportunity and the performance that night against Arsenal. So, it’s a good thing, in that it’s easy to prepare.
Now the challenge is to focus, focus only on this match, focus on us and play on the edge.
Once you arrive in a final, and you arrive with Chelsea, you want to win the final, nothing else. I’ve won some finals before, and the big change to me personally did not arrive. You are super happy and you have the best night after that. You feel relieved, I feel so happy for everybody who was involved. I am so, so happy for two, three days. But after that it didn’t change anything in me. It was the same hunger the next training or when the season started again, and the same desire, the same anger when you lose games. I never stepped in and said ‘yeah but I won a final, now I will not take care about this stuff’; it’s not like this. It’s more like you want more and more and more. We are Chelsea and we are about winning and we want to win titles and as many as possible. A win tomorrow is absolutely crucial and will not change anything, hopefully, for the next one.”
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, meanwhile, says “I didn’t know they (Leicester) had never won the Cup before when I arrived. I know in the 60s they had a season ticket for Wembley and there was a number of finals they got to. You get the sense of how important it is to the supporters; this is a real community club where the FA Cup is such a prestigious competition. There is a story of a guy who went to Wembley on his bike and then couldn’t get back because someone stole his bike. These things are all part of our great history. We hope we can be the first and write our history here. If we can do that then it might be the start of more FA Cups.
We have earned the right to be in the final and we will arrive with an opportunity to make our own history. If we can play to our level we have a great chance. This is a game where you can create an incredible legacy, you write your own stories. We feel we’re in with a chance and if we can play to our level we have a great chance. We have watched it (the Cup final) all through our lives. To be able to lead Leicester out for the first time in 50-odd years will be a real privilege for me. These weeks you always have to stay calm. This is a game where you can create an incredible legacy. You write your own stories in these games. We have exactly the same preparation (as other games). The consequence of the game is greater than others but you don’t need to magnify an FA Cup final to raise any levels of anxiety. Just to know in such a special occasion we are going to have people there with our backs and looking after us (is great). Wembley is an iconic stadium so for them to watch the team play in a final will be really special for them.”
For Chelsea, Andreas Christensen is fit and Mateo Kovacic (hamstring) returns although probably on the bench after a five-week absence. N’Golo Kante (Achilles) is available and Kepa will start in goal again.
For Leicester, James Justin and Harvey Barnes (both knee) are long term absentees and Wes Morgan (back) also misses out. Jonny Evans (heel) will be assessed, whilst Ricardo Pereira is available, and James Maddison could start.
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso; Ziyech, Mount; Werner
LEICESTER (Possible line-up): Schmeichel; Evans, Fofana, Soyuncu; Pereira, Ndidi, Tielemans, Castagne; Maddison; Vardy, Iheanacho
CURRENT FORM (ALL)
- Chelsea have reached the FA Cup final for the fourth time in five seasons.
- Leicester are appearing in the final of a major cup competition for the first time since 2000
- This is Chelsea’s 15th FA Cup final
- Chelsea have won the FA Cup eight times under eight different managers.
- Leicester have not yet won the FA Cup.
- Chelsea lost to Arsenal in last year’s final.
- Leicester have only won four of their 15 games at Wembley.
- Chelsea have won all seven previous FA Cup ties against Leicester.
- This is the second time Leicester and Chelsea have met in a domestic cup final.
- Chelsea are without a win in six Premier League fixtures against Leicester
BBC Sport: Chelsea 1-0 Leicester
Sky Sports: Chelsea 2-1 Leicester
Sportsmole: Chelsea 2-1 Leicester