CHELSEA are taking on Leicester in the FA Cup final and Thomas Tuchel has decided to stick with Kepa in the starting line-up.The Blues’ record signing came lost his place under former boss Frank Lampard but edges out Edouard Mendy for today’s game.
Tuchel has been with the Blues for less than four months but has a chance to win a first trophy as their manager today.
Leicester meanwhile have not reached an FA Cup final since 1969 and have never won the competition.
But they’ll have their fans at Wembley supporting them today, with the match to be played in front of 21,000 supporters of both teams.
That’s the highest capacity in UK sport since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The FA Cup final will kick off at 5.15pm BST.
Chelsea vs Leicester is live for free on BBC One in the UK. You can also watch on BT Sport.
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Chelsea XI: Kepa, Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger, James, Jorginho, Kante, Alonso, Ziyech, Werner, Mount
Leicester XI: Schmeichel, Castagne, Soyuncu, Evans, Fofana, Thomas, Ndidi, Tielemans, Perez, Iheanacho, Vardy
THAT’S A KEEPER
This is a big day for Leicester star Kasper Schmeichel…
It’s also a big day for goalkeepers in English football.
Schmeichel is the first keeper to start as captain since David James for Portsmouth in 2010.
Jamie Vardy is Leicester’s top danger man but Kelechi Iheanacho has been a major force in the FA Cup.
Since the start of the 2015-2016 campaign, Iheanacho has scored more FA Cup goals than any other player.
The striker has netted a total of 14 crackers, which means Chelsea will have to keep an extra eye on the Nigeria international.
The ex-Manchester City ace has registered a total of 18 goals and seven assists in 36 matches across all competitions this season
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel makes history tonight as he becomes the first ever German manager to coach in an FA Cup Final.
Tuchel has turned things around ever since replacing Frank Lampard at the Blues’ dugout in January as he has won a whopping 17 out of all his 26 matches across all competitions, of which he has only lost a mere three.
The 47-year-old boss has also amassed 11 clean sheets out of all of his 17 Premier League matches, which makes the west Londoners one of the toughest teams to score against.
However, he has never faced Leicester before and today marks his first ever meeting with Brendan Rodgers in all of his 14 years in management.
Tuchel told BT Sport before the game: ““I’ve had worse days in my life, clearly, it cannot get much better than this.
“I’m grateful to arrive in the maybe the most prestigious cup final in the world with a strong team and strong club. It’s quite a big day, but the job is not finish. We absolutely want to win, we arrive to win, it’s going to be tough, but the mindset is clear. We want the trophy.
“We cannot get the points back from Wednesday’s defeat to Arsenal, but we can play sharper and show we learned a lesson. It’s a cup final, we want to be at our very best, and we will have to against a strong Leicester side”
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers appears to have opted for a 4-3-3 as well with only one change to the team that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Kasper Schmeichel starts in goal with Wesley Fofana, Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans, who replaces Marc Albrighton, in defence.
Timothy Castagne starts as a right wing-back with Luke Thomas on the other side, while Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi link up in defence.
Ayoze Perez, Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy lead the attack
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel appears to have opted for a 3-4-3 formation with five changes to the team that lost to Arsenal at home on Wednesday.
Kepa Arrizabalaga starts in goal with captain Cesar Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger, who replaces Kurt Zouma, in defence.
Reece James plays as right wing-back with Marcos Alonso, on for Ben Chilwell on the other side, while Jorginho and N’Golo Kante, who takes Billy Gilmour’s place, team up in midfield.
Masoun Mount, Timo Werner, who replaces Christian Pulisic, and Hakim Ziyech, who takes Kai Havertz’s place, lead the attack
12 Ward, 5 Morgan, 18 Amartey, 21 Ricardo, 20 Choudhury, 24 Mendy, 26 Praet, 10 Maddison, 11 Albrighton.
16 Mendy, 21 Chilwell, 33 Emerson, 15 Zouma, 23 Gilmour, 29 Havertz, 20 Hudson-Odoi, 10 Pulisic, 18 Giroud
1 Schmeichel; 27 Castagne, 4 Soyuncu, 6 Evans, 3 Fofana; 33 Thomas, 25 Ndidi, 8 Tielemans; 17 Perez, 14 Iheanacho, 9 Vardy
1 Kepa; 28 Azpilicueta, 6 Silva, 2 Rudiger; 24 James, 7 Kante, 5 Jorginho, 3 Alonso; 22 Ziyech, 19 Mount, 11 Werner
THE TEAM SHEETS ARE IN!!!
FANS ARE BACK
The FA Cup Final won’t be taking place with empty stands at Wembley Stadium as a total of 21,000 fans will be in attendance.
That means that the legendary ground, which holds up to 90,000 fans, will be at an approximate 23 per cent capacity for the clash between Chelsea and Leicester.
The allocation is made up of supporters from both teams as well as local residents and NHS staff, who were offered tickets as a way of saying thank you for their tireless work during the coronavirus pandemic.
But the supporters had to take a Covid-19 test two or three days prior to the match before another one on the day of the final.
Fans were also allowed to attend last month’s Carabao Cup Final between eventual winners Manchester City and Tottenham, although Wembley that day was at 8,000 capacity
Leicester are third in the Premier League table with two points separating them from fourth-placed Chelsea.
The Foxes have been impressive in the FA Cup as they have scored 12 goals, one more than the Blues, and conceded a mere two.
Brendan Rodgers’ men have won 20 out of 36 Premier League matches and lost 10, which makes it the joint-worst return of the top four.
Leicester have scored a total of 65 goals and conceded 44, which means that Kasper Schmeichel has picked up the ball out of his own net more times than anyone else in the top five
Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League table with four points separating them from fifth-placed Liverpool and two from third-placed Leicester, whom they will also face in the Premier League at home on Tuesday.
The Foxes have their work cut out as the Blues hold the joint-highest number of clean sheets (18) in the Premier League and have only conceded one goal in all of their five FA Cup matches, where they have scored 11 goals.
The west Londoners have won a total of 18 out of 36 matches in the Premier League where they have lost eight times, which is the joint-worst return of the top four.
However, they have scored a total of 55 goals in the top flight and conceded a mere 33, which is the second lowest tally behind Manchester City
Chelsea and Leicester’s first ever encounter took place way back in 1905 during a second division match in the East Midlands that the Blues won 1-0.
Since then, the two sides have faced off a total of 118 times across all competitions with the west Londoners winning a majority of 57 games, compared to the Foxes’ 27 victories.
The two Premier League giants have met nine times in the FA Cup and Chelsea won seven of the exchange whereas Leicester have yet to beat their Wembley opponents in the competition.
The Blues overcame Brendan Rodgers’ men in the sixth round last year with a score of 1-0 thanks to Ross Barkley’s winner.
However, Leicester should still be feeling confident as they defeated Thomas Tuchel’s men 2-0 in their Premier League clash five months ago in Frank Lampard’s penultimate match in charge
It is a glorious day at Wembley as a total of 21,000 supporters return to the stands for this major clash between the Blues and the Foxes after a long absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel will get the opportunity to win his first piece of silverware in west London after turning things around at Stamford Bridge five months ago when he replaced Frank Lampard at the helm.
But Tuchel is facing the prospect of missing midfield star N’Golo Kante, who’s suffering Achilles trouble that kept him out of the midweek defeat by Arsenal.
Andreas Christensen also poses as a doubt as he is dealing with a tendon problem and the same goes for Mateo Kovacic after his recent bout with a hamstring injury.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, will be without long-term absentees Harvey Barnes and James Justin who are both out with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Jonny Evans is hoping to recover in time from a recent foot injury while star midfielder James Maddison is expected to return to the starting line-up after overcoming a hip problem
Isn’t this a sight for sore eyes?
The first fans descending on Wembley after over 14 months without watching their teams.
These Leicester City supporters have already seen their team cause arguably the biggest shock in football history by lifting the Premier League title in 2016.
And they’ll be looking for their team to defy expectations once again as they face Champions League finalists Chelsea.
BLUE IS THE COLOUR
It’s a battle of the Blues as Chelsea take on Leicester in the FA Cup final.
The West Londoners are looking for a first trophy under Thomas Tuchel as they take on the Foxes at Wembley.
And with victory they can go one better than they managed under Frank Lampard when they were edged out 2-1 in last year’s final.
Leicester meanwhile have not appeared at an FA Cup final since 1969.On that day, they were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City.
But the club has big ambitions and are looking for a first trophy under Brendan Rodgers.
This match will also mark the largest capacity at an English football match since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis last year.
21,000 fans will be out in force cheering their teams on at Wembley today.
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