Leicester vs Chelsea - FA Cup preview

16th Mar 2018

Overall, we should be happy with how Leicester City have performed this season. After a tricky start and plenty of uncertainty, the team, with a new manager, has fought in the top half of the Premier League table and deserve to be there.

Leicester match preview

The FA Cup is one of two opportunities Leicester have at European football next season. The Foxes are the dark horses of this FA Cup, with other teams - including Chelsea - having to juggle their league position too. 

Leicester's opponents for the upcoming quarter-final were unlucky not to take anything from the Champions League tie against Barcelona. It’s a cliche, but it really was Lionel Messi who was the difference.

His two goals were clinically dispatched through the keepers legs, and his run to set up Ousmane Dembele’s goal was great.

Chelsea’s attitude in the fixture couldn’t be questioned and they were ultimately unlucky to lose by such a margin, having hit the woodwork four times over the two legs and generally enjoying a decent share of possession at the Camp Nou. 

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If Leicester were playing another English team who had been knocked out of the Champions League, like Manchester United, I’d be a bit more confident about our chances in this fixture. United were everything you don’t want to see in the knock-out stages of the Champions League. 

Their play and Mourinho’s tactics were both assumptive. Lethargy set in on the clear belief that they could maybe scrape a 1-0 win in the dying minutes of the second leg. Enter Wissam Ben Yedder stage left. 

So, despite their recent defeat, I don’t think Chelsea will come into this game with dropped heads and a dejected attitude. It’s another chance for silverware after all. 

Predicted line-up

Leicester have no reason to field anything other than their strongest side. The team who put four past West Brom would be a good shout, although I’d switch Demarai Gray out for Marc Albrighton given his number of assists and reliability.

I also think Kelechi Iheanacho should get the nod ahead of Shinji Okazaki given his FA Cup goalscoring habit this season.

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The Vicente Iborra - Wilfred Ndidi holding midfield partnership that a lot of us wanted to see worked really well at the Hawthorns, and should be given a chance to prosper here too against the familiar face of N’Golo Kante.

(4-4-2) Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Iborra, Ndidi, Albrighton, Iheanacho, Vardy.

Key battle

Leicester’s potential victory surely hangs on containing Eden Hazard? The Belgian didn’t enjoy his best football at the Camp Nou, but will pose a big threat to Leicester. He’s in the 'game changer' category alongside Riyad Mahrez. His balance on the ball can see him embarrass defenders.

He seems to have a certain license to roam when he plays, so our entire back line will have to cover him and our wide attacking players will definitely have to track back and help out when Chelsea create space.

Opposition danger man

Willian is probably one of the most underrated players in the Premier League. Maybe it’s the large shadow that Hazard casts at the club, but everything wernt through him against Barcelona, and he looked the most likely to screate something and score.

He also punishes poor discipline from a set piece. If he gets anything around the box, you always fancy him to at least test the keeper, if not hit top bins. Willian has been part of Chelsea’s answer to the team's lack of a very strong striker, and his teammates will look to him in the final third.

Betting tips and predictions

First goalscorer flutter

It was 0-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season and I think the goals missing from that game will show up here. I feel that Chelsea will want to rectify falling out of the Champions League, and Leicester will throw everything at this Cup tie because we don’t have to worry too much about league position.

I’d expect a freeflowing game with lots of chaces. The Mahrez - Vardy link up will lead to the first goal.

Get Vardy to score first @ 17/4

Bet with your head

The Foxes' recent form makes prediciting which team will emerge from the tunnel difficult, but I think the occasion, and the atmosphere at the King Power, should bring out the best in them.

I really think Leicester will be up for this and won’t be fazed by their opponents. Most people will have this down as a Chelsea victory, but I’m going the other way.

Get Leicester to win 3-2 @ 33/1

Go with your gut

Claude Puel took Southampton to a Cup final last season, so why can’t this happen for the Foxes too? I'm going for a Leicester win, but maybe via a more realistic scoreline.

Get Leicester to win 1-0 @ 21/2

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