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Preview: Leicester City vs. Chelsea - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final showdown between Leicester City and Chelsea, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two of the Premier League's top four meet in the FA Cup on Sunday when third-placed Leicester City welcome fourth-placed Chelsea to the King Power Stadium.

Just one point separates the two sides in the top flight heading into this quarter-final showdown, but their FA Cup pedigree could hardly be more different with Chelsea boasting eight titles and Leicester none.

Match preview

Chelsea players celebrate Willian's goal against Manchester City on June 24, 2020© Reuters

Given the rivalry that has developed between Chelsea and Liverpool over the past 20 years or so, there may have been some fans bemoaning the fact that it was the Blues' win over Manchester City which handed the Reds their long-awaited title on Thursday night.

Far more important to Frank Lampard and his Chelsea players would have been another three points, though, the importance of which understandably flew under the radar given the more significant implications of the result elsewhere.

Having seen both Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers win earlier in the week, Chelsea responded in kind in one of their toughest remaining fixtures to restore their five-point lead over the chasing pack in the battle for the top four.

While the Londoners will of course have one eye looking at those behind them, the other will be firmly fixed up the table and Leicester, who are now just a point above them, will come into sharp focus this weekend.

Chelsea must put their Champions League charge on the back-burner for now as they continue their quest to lift the trophy for a ninth time, and the second time in the last three seasons.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard pictured on June 25, 2020© Reuters

It is the last trophy realistically available to Lampard this season and, if he was to crown his debut campaign as Chelsea boss with FA Cup glory and a top-four finish - having not signed a single player last summer or in January - it would have to go down as one of the most impressive managerial feats of 2019-20.

Lampard lifted this trophy four times as a player with Chelsea and booked the club's place in the quarter-finals for a fourth time in the past five seasons by inflicting a rare defeat on Liverpool in the last round.

That March victory was the beginning of a four-match winning streak across all competitions, which is their best run since October and a sign that they are finally starting to find the sort of consistency which the top-four race has been crying out for all season.

One thing Chelsea have been consistent with so far is goals in FA Cup games - they have netted twice in each round so far, overcoming Nottingham Forest, Hull City and then Liverpool to reach the quarter-finals.

These two sides also met at the King Power Stadium in the quarter-finals of the 2017-18 FA Cup, with Chelsea winning on that occasion, but that remains Leicester's last home defeat in this competition with two wins from two without conceding a goal since.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers pictured on June 23, 2020© Reuters

Indeed, Leicester's 1-0 triumph over Birmingham City in the last round means that they have now won three successive FA Cup games without conceding for the first time since March 1969, also keeping clean sheets against Wigan Athletic and Brentford.

The good omen about that for Leicester is that 1969 was the last time they reached the FA Cup final, although this match is set to be their toughest of this season's tournament so far and they go into it in poor form.

The Foxes are winless since the restart, drawing against relegation-threatened duo Watford and Brighton & Hove Albion to extend their recent league record to just one win in seven.

After winning 12 and losing just one of their first 15 league games this season Leicester have since won just four and lost six of their next 16, allowing Chelsea to close the gap to only one point.

The main problem now appears to be goalscoring; Leicester boast the division's top scorer in Jamie Vardy but have failed to find the back of the net in four of their last six top-flight outings - as many as they had in their previous 26.

Brendan Rodgers will hope that the FA Cup provides a welcome distraction from that as they look to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1982.

Leicester FA Cup form: WWW
Leicester form (all competitions): LLWWDD

Chelsea FA Cup form: WWW
Chelsea form (all competitions): LDWWWW

Team News

Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi pictured in September 2019© Reuters

Lampard is expected to make changes for this match as he looks to keep his players fresh for the Premier League, with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mateo Kovacic, Billy Gilmour, Pedro, Jorginho and Kurt Zouma all in line to feature.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek could also be handed another start as he continues his return to full fitness after more than a year out, while Willy Caballero is expected to come in for Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Willian, who scored the penalty which gave the title to Liverpool on Thursday, may sit out after playing the full 90 minutes of that match, but his record in this competition could also tempt Lampard to include him.

Since his FA Cup debut in January 2014, the Brazilian has been directly involved in 16 goals for Chelsea (11 goals, 5 assists) - at least five more than any other player for the club in that time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi will be assessed ahead of kickoff as he continues to struggle with an ankle injury, while Fikayo Tomori and forgotten man Marco van Ginkel, who has just signed a new contract at the club despite not playing for them since 2013, are absent.

Leicester will once again be without Ricardo Pereira and Daniel Amartey, but Rodgers has no fresh injury concerns against his former club.

With their Champions League place seeming less assured now than it did pre-lockdown, the hosts could choose to rest key players such as Vardy, Wilfred Ndidi and rumoured Chelsea target Ben Chilwell.

The likes of Harvey Barnes, Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez are among those who could come into the team.

Leicester possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Justin, Evans, Morgan, Fuchs; Perez, Choudhury, Tielemans, Praet, Barnes; Iheanacho

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Caballero; James, Christensen, Zouma, Emerson; Gilmour, Jorginho, Kovacic; Loftus-Cheek, Abraham, Pedro

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Leicester 0-1 Chelsea

This would be a difficult match to call at the best of times, yet alone with so many changes expected to both teams. We are going with the formbook, though, and backing Chelsea to edge through to the semi-finals once again.


Who will progress to the FA Cup semi-finals - Leicester or Chelsea?

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Leicester City's James Maddison pictured on February 27, 2020
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