The FA Cup may lack the glamour and the significance it may have once had, but it remains one of (English) football’s major trophies and as such, winning it remains a significant accomplishment. And Chelsea have been very successful indeed in this competition, especially in modern times, reaching the final for the 12th time in the last 30 years — and 4th in the last 5! — and looking to make it our 8th win during that same span.
Three of the four losses in these modern finals have come at the hands of Arsenal, including twice in the last five years, which have dampened the usual “Chelsea Cup” and “Wembley Second Home” boasts. Fortunately, we only had to lose to the Gunners in the league this time around. That’s not to say that Leicester City will be any easier to vanquish, especially as they look for their first ever FA Cup in their fifth finals appearance.
Chelsea and Leicester play again on Tuesday, in a “second final”, this time for the top-four. But the only thing that matters right now is the Magic of the Cup™. And unlike last season, we will even have fans in the stands!
Date / Time: Saturday, May 15, 2021, 17.15 BST; 12:15pm EDT; 9:45pm IST
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London — 20,000 tested and masked will be allowed to attend
Referee: Michael Oliver (on pitch); Chris Kavanagh & Sian Massey-Ellis (VAR) — Oliver also refereed our last FA Cup final win, the 1-0 over Manchester United in 2017.
Forecast: Rain and more rain and probably more rain
On TV: BBC One, BT Sport 1 (UK); none (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Premier League (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BBC iPlayer, BT Sport Live (UK); ESPN+ (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA) — We (WAGNH) have an affiliate link for ESPN+ if you’re in the US and would like to sign up for the best value in sports streaming (or, if you’re like me, sign up for the Disney-Hulu-ESPN+ bundle, which has gone up in price by a dollar but is still worth it).
Chelsea team news: Chelsea are just about fully healthy, though how fit Mateo Kovačić or Andreas Christensen may actually be is up for debate. Kovačić has been trying to return from a hamstring injury for almost a month now while Christensen was expected to try to return for one of these two games against Leicester City but did not get a mention in the pre-match press conference.
Thomas Tuchel did confirm that he’s going to give Kepa the chance to see out a winning Cup campaign, and we should also be getting N’Golo Kanté back from his “pain management” day. Kanté has had fitness concerns ahead of our last three finals (2019 Europa League, 2020 FA Cup, and now), and that vicious cycle seems to be continuing.
Chelsea have responded to every (rare) defeat and setback under Tuchel with renewed effort, vigor, and quality, so hopefully that pattern holds.
Leicester City team news: Leicester have managed to steady their sinking Premier League top-four ship by beating Manchester United’s B-team on Tuesday, but next Tuesday’s showdown looms large for them as well — with Liverpool coming up like a vomit rocket from fifth. But like Chelsea, Leicester will be fully focused on this “first final” match, especially as it’s a chance for them to make history and win the first ever FA Cup in club history.
Former Chelsea youth and reserves coach Brendan Rodgers will be without James Justin, Harvey Barnes, and Wes Morgan, while Jonny Evans is a game-time decision. But the key player for them could very well be Kelechi Iheanacho, who’s had a rather amazing second half of the season, including goals in each of the last three rounds of their FA Cup campaign and 15 goals in 17 appearances in all competitions since the start of February.
View from the enemy: The Fosse Posse
Previously: We have failed to beat Leicester in the league in our last six tries, since 2017 (four draws, two defeats), but we have beaten them twice in FA Cup (quarter)finals during that time, including a 1-0 Ross Barkley-inspired one last season and a 2-1 extra-time win in 2018, which featured a winning goal scored by Pedro … with his head!