Leicester City have a solid chance of making it through to the last four of the FA Cup when they host a faltering Chelsea side at the King Power Stadium on Sunday (11:30 ET).
Leicester are comfortably positioned in the English Premier League soccer table, with eyes on the seventh place currently occupied by Burnley. They will come into this match well-rested and ready to go after spending some time in the south of Spain this week preparing for it.
Last weekend’s impressive 4-1 win away to West Bromwich Albion was Leicester’s first league victory since 20th January and the feeling was that a change of scenery and some additional bonding time would do the squad good prior to the final stretch of the campaign.
This season has not included the excitement of a relegation battle, title challenge or strong run in Europe, as recent ones have. It has been a more stable campaign, particularly since Claude Puel replaced the sacked Craig Shakespeare towards the end of October. Leicester are a decent team at both ends of the pitch and worthy of their current top-eight position.
The club have been FA Cup runners up on four occasions without ever winning the competition. This year’s run has seen them dispatch Fleetwood Town (after a replay), Peterborough and Sheffield United, and although the opposition will clearly be stronger on Sunday, there are reasons to believe that they can make a good game of it.
Leicester have been competitive in their matches against top-six sides since Puel’s arrival, including a 0-0 draw away to Chelsea in mid-January, and also knocked Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup earlier this season. Last season, Puel’s Southampton side reached the final of that competition, defeating Liverpool in the two-legged semi-final, and were then unfortunate to lose out to Manchester United at Wembley.
Chelsea will certainly not expect an easy match. Leicester created the better chances when the sides met at Stamford Bridge, and even Chelsea’s 2-1 win at the King Power stadium last September came in a match that could easily have gone the other way had Leicester converted their opportunities.
The Blues also come into the fixture on the back of generally poor form since the turn of the year. Antonio Conte’s side have won just six of their 17 matches in all competitions in 2018 and travel to Leicester having lost five on the bounce away from home.
The most recent of those defeats came away to Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday. Chelsea gave a good account of themselves. They created some solid chances, with Willian again a standout performer, but couldn’t live with the genius of Lionel Messi. In a match, and tie, that was largely closely contested, Messi made the difference, scoring twice and assisting the other to see Barcelona through: 3-0 on the night; 4-1 on aggregate.
At the start of the calendar year, Chelsea were still involved and competitive in four different competitions. Their Carabao Cup campaign was ended at the semi-final stage by Arsenal, Barcelona have extinguished their European hopes, while their dip in form now sees them four points off the top four in the English Premier League with eight matches left to play. In terms of silverware, only this FA Cup tournament now remains.
Conte therefore has the difficult task of arresting the slide and focusing minds ahead of Sunday’s match. Chelsea reached the FA Cup final last season, only to lose out to Arsenal in extra time, and are still a good enough side to go as far. This year’s run has seen them defeat Norwich (after a replay), Newcastle and Hull, but now a stiffer test awaits.
If Chelsea turn up and play at their best, they should be able to defeat Leicester, but that is something they have done so infrequently since the turn of the year that it is difficult to rely on them suddenly doing so this weekend. Leicester were a bit unfortunate not to take more than a single point from their two previous meetings with Chelsea this season, and if their luck turns on Sunday, they have a good chance of at least taking the match to extra time.
Our Preview’s Leicester vs. Chelsea Picks & Betting Predictions
So we come to our eternal battle with the United States’ best sportsbooks, and our Leicester vs Chelsea betting pick is:
- Bet on Leicester City to win on the ‘draw no bet’ market @ +150 with Bovada. You get your money back if it is a draw in normal time.