After an emotional night at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea welcome Leicester City in the FA Cup on Saturday. Leicester advanced by defeating Norwich City at Carrow Road, 2-1.
Coming off being the first team to overcome a 2-goal deficit in Champions League history, the Blues will look to keep the momentum going ahead of their trip to the Etihad Stadium midweek.
This will be an entirely different battle, but not necessarily in the mentality of the opposition. While Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Marek Hamsik provide the counterattacking presence for the Napoli side, Leicester have Jermaine Beckford. No knock on Beckford, but I don’t think you would see his name in that group, except in the preceding sentence.
That being said, it gives us a great chance to advance to a semifinal at Wembley in mere weeks.
First thing to look at with Leicester is that they play classic English football.
That’s not a knock on English football, but the way Nigel Pearson sets his side up is quite predictable. He plays two central midfielders, one more attacking, one more defending, and a strong striker partnering a quick striker.
You don’t get more classic English tactics than that. They will also look to counterattack and use the counter to force corners that pin you inside your area. Aside from that, they’re not particularly strong on the ball and will look to defend for long periods of time
Since they play such a classic 4-4-2, it leaves lots of spaces between the lines that players can attack.
Norwich used that to great effect in the last FA Cup match, and I think they were quite unlucky to not get a draw. They paid for some slack defending and not putting their chances away. Norwich tend to play in a diamond midfield lately and that system caused Leicester all sorts of problems in defence. The only difference is that Norwich failed to take their chances, though the created a few good ones.
That will be an area that we should look to attack. We have a number of players who like to play between the lines, and Leicester will give us lots of room in those areas to play.
Jermaine Beckford may have failed at Everton, but he still knows how to put the ball in the back of the net.
He might be a very good Championship player, but if he gets the opportunity to score, he will do so more often than not. Beckford has 11 goals this year, with his partner David Nugent netting 14 goals.
Beckford has always thrived when he wasn’t the focus of the attack. At Everton, he played often as the focal striker, where at Leeds and now at Leicester, he’s able to drop off a target man and play in deeper areas.
One real positive: No one’s quite sure what Leicester team turns up.
The reason Leicester find themselves in 11th place is that they’ve been the picture of inconsistency. They have not been able to string more than two wins together in the Championship this season and have only managed to win three consecutive matches at most. Otherwise, their last five matches are 3 wins and 2 losses.
Consistency has been a real issue for them, and it’ll be interesting to see which side appears.
On our side, Roberto Di Matteo must show a bit of pragmatism and pick his side carefully this Sunday.
The side that is picked for Sunday will say a lot about the current state of the club. We have City midweek, and nine players just played 120 minutes on Wednesday. I believe that it would be a nice time to rest one or two of the older players as a precaution, starting with Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.
With both at 34, recovery is not on their side, and I think it would be a mistake to expect them to recover and have the energy to complete 180 more minutes over the next week.
This is why you have a squad.
Compared to Napoli, this should be considered a much easier match. The issue whether the squad shows a bit of an emotional drain after the comeback against Napoli.
I would say this has 3-0 on it, but I don’t think it will be that cut and dry. I’m thinking that the match will be cagey, but we’ll get two late goals to get to the 3-0 scoreline.