Even in this most peculiar of seasons, FA Cup final day still receives worldwide respect and Saturday’s clash between Chelsea and Leicester provides plenty of intrigue.
The Blues were uncharacteristically askew as they lost 1-0 to a dishevelled Arsenal on Wednesday, while in their own midweek outing, the Foxes won 2-1 at Old Trafford to boost their confidence.
Saturday’s match is the first of a double-header, with the pair also in action against each other in the league on Tuesday. With just two points between the teams from 36 Premier League games, it could take something special to split them.
Tuchel to Keep Things Tight
That defeat to the Gunners raised eyebrows but as poor as Chelsea were, they were still the better team and only conceded due to an error from Jorginho.
Christian Pulisic had a goal ruled out, while Kai Havertz spurned a one-on-one and both Olivier Giroud and Kurt Zouma struck the woodwork.
Thomas Tuchel has built his side from the back since taking over in January and will be working to counteract the threat of a Leicester side adept at catching their opponents on the break.
The Foxes have enjoyed another successful season, seemingly being on course for a top-four finish and a first-ever FA Cup win would be a just reward for the progress they’ve made under Brendan Rodgers.
However, this Chelsea side are a grizzled outfit and there is a reason they are the
10/11 favourites to win in 90 minutes on Saturday.
Kelechi Can Provide Foxes’ Threat
There is hope for Leicester, though, with that Old Trafford triumph providing a real boost to both morale and their top-four hopes, especially after their surprise 4-2 defeat to Newcastle.
Kelechi Iheancho struck a late consolation to grab his 10th Premier League goal since the start of March and, while he may not have been on the scoresheet against the Red Devils, he was again at the heart of everything his side did well.
At 24, the striker is beginning to show the type of form predicted when he burst onto the scene at Manchester City and is a handy
2/1 in the anytime goalscorer market for the Wembley showpiece.
That price is telling when you consider it is shorter than talisman Jamie Vardy’s
5/2. Vardy has scored just once since the middle of February and while it could be argued that his unselfish running has been the key to Iheanacho’s improvement, it is tough to argue against the opinion that he is no longer his side’s biggest goal threat.
Chelsea Have the Edge
FA Cup finals have often proved to be anti-climaxes, settled by a mistake rather than a moment of magic.
Last year’s edition was different, though, with Chelsea coming out on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline against London rivals Arsenal.
While Tuchel will keep it tight, there is always the chance of conceding with his cup keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga involved.
The 26-year-old is often brilliant but drama seems to follow him around, as demonstrated in the recent defeat to Arsenal. Kepa was far from at fault for the winner and actually did well to stop Jorginho’s initial back pass going straight in, but doubts remain.
Leicester can score on Saturday but it may not prove enough and a Chelsea win by the 2-1 scoreline they were defeated by in last season’s showpiece makes sense at
Furthermore, history shows us that the last seven FA Cup finals the Londoners have been involved in have been settled by a single goal. Punters can get
11/5 on the Blues to triumph by one goal, a result that would give them a ninth title in this competition and stand them in good stead for both Tuesday and the Champions League final on May 29.
*All odds correct at time of writing.