Leicester v Chelsea FA Cup Preview
Sunday June 28th – 4pm on BT Sport
Chris Griffin gives his thoughts ahead of the game
After our home draw v Chelsea was made a City fan said to me: “It’ll be just like us to reach Wembley with no fans able to go to watch.” Such East Midlands pessimism will be familiar to many Leicester fans. That pessimism may have increased following the games against Watford and Brighton. City’s hesitant post-break performances will not help fans believe that the team will go through.
But this tie should be a cracker. Third against fourth in the EPL, Leicester with a five point lead in table at the time of the draw, and both teams already played each other twice in closely-matched, entertaining draws. Each game followed a similar pattern with Chelsea getting off to a good start and taking the lead but then City fought back. The possession stats were 50/50 in the first game and 51/49 to City in the second: not a lot between the sides.
Brendan Rodgers summed up City’s home performance versus Chelsea well. “It was a great fight today – we worked our way into the game with some real moments of quality and eventually played very well.” And that points the way for the quarter final: fight and quality.
Much will depend on how well each side copes with a return from the extended break. Fitness will be vital. At the weekend Chelsea’s young squad dealt well with falling behind at Villa, taking the points and dominating possession.
Leicester will miss Ricardo and his excellent form. However, a fully fit Ndidi should transform our midfield by freeing up Tielemans and Madison to push up. Enabling Madison to have possession going forward and to take the game to Chelsea might decide the tie.
The other key could be the frequency with which Leicester play Vardy into goal scoring positions. The leader in this season’s Golden Boot race he has scored 99 EPL goals for Leicester. He is our talismanic match winner and if it goes well for him we can win.
So how have Leicester done in the re-start? According to the excellent Jonathan Northcroft in The Sunday Times the team had been “flying in training.” Flying was less evident at Watford and when home to Brighton. The team looked hesitant; its tempo inconsistent; and its vulnerability to high balls into our box persists, as shown by Watford’s equaliser.
Given Rutiger scored from two set piece headers for Chelsea against us in February then we need to be more assured, certain and aggressive when defending set plays and corners. On the plus side Justin made a very promising right back debut. He may – at present – lack the surge on the ball provided by Ricardo, but his positioning and defensive awareness were very mature for a young player and he made intelligent overlaps.
Against Brighton the performance was even less convincing. Yes, it was a warm evening but the team was off the pace. The tempo was again very slow. Leicester fans will have been puzzled by the selection of two holding midfielders when playing home against a side near the foot of the table. The 4-4-2 looked imbalanced and certainly wasn’t playing to Vardy’s strengths. He had just one touch in the first 25 minutes.
Justin was tested more in this match. You do not have to be a City fan to judge the penalty decision against him harsh but he still rescued several situations and appears to have a lot of confidence. Hats off to Kasper for his penalty save. It was only in the last quarter of the game that City began to play more convincingly when changes reverted us to the 4-1-4-1 formation and personnel which have served us best this season. How we were not awarded a last minute penalty is another puzzle. Nevertheless, form is not good with only one league win from the last seven games.
A City win against Chelsea would do the squad and fans a world of good. It could be the catalyst to revive confidence and keep Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves off our backs. But given current and recent form this fan, for one, is not holding his breath.
The views expressed in this report are the opinions of the Trust member nominated to file the report only and do not represent the views of the Foxes Trust organisation