Leicester City are bidding to win their first ever FA Cup but Chelsea will provide a stern test at Wembley in the 2021 final, having become an extremely resilient outfit under Thomas Tuchel.
Both sides edged through tight semi-finals 1-0, with Leicester knocking out Southampton and Chelsea coming through a tense affair with Manchester City. Another close contest is therefore expected in what will be an emotional occasion for all involved, with fans of both sides in place. Here are six of the key players who will help to decide which side wins this year’s FA Cup.
Six key players in the 2021 FA Cup final
Mount was left out by Tuchel in the German’s first game in charge of the Blues, but he has since reasserted his status as one of the must-start players for Chelsea.
The England midfielder scored in the semi-final defeat of Manchester United last season and has shown a knack for finding the net on the biggest of occasions, including against Real Madrid in the Champions League last four.
Mount’s energy and versatility is key for Chelsea and although it is not always possible to predict how he will be used by Tuchel, the 22-year-old is sure to perform to a high level in the 2021 FA Cup final.
It has been a strange season for Vardy, who started the campaign with eight goals in seven Premier League games, including a hat-trick against Manchester City, but has faded of late. Vardy’s goals have dried up over the second half of the season but the striker, now approaching veteran status, remains a crucial player for Leicester.
At 34, his place in Foxes folklore is already secure after he fired them to the unlikeliest of Premier League titles. A goal in the 2021 FA Cup final would write a fresh chapter in his stellar career.
Vardy’s former team-mate Kante is sure to be fired up for this one as he tries to deny his old employers while seeking to make up for last year’s defeat to Arsenal in the final.
Like Vardy, Kante has had an uneven season and he has not always been a mandatory pick for Chelsea, but his form in recent weeks has suggested he is close to getting back to his best.
It is often said that Kante produces enough running and energy for two midfielders rather than one and his presence has been key to Chelsea’s defensive strength under Tuchel.
Leicester took a while to replace Kante after he made the move to Stamford Bridge but Ndidi has proven a more than capable successor. The Nigeria midfielder is a powerful presence in the Leicester midfield and he is now rightly regarded as one of the best players in his position in Europe.
Ndidi has been linked with European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United and leading Leicester to a maiden FA Cup in the 2021 final would be the perfect way to wave goodbye. Or perhaps winning the FA Cup could persuade Ndidi to stay on for at least another year.
Another player expected to be moving on this summer is Giroud but the cup specialist could sign off in style at Wembley, though he is expected to start on the bench for the Blues.
Giroud considers himself above super-sub status and rightly so, with his record in FA Cup finals indicating Tuchel should think twice about leaving him out of the Blues XI. The France forward was instrumental for Arsenal in three FA Cup titles during his time at the club and added a fourth crown in his first campaign for the Stamford Bridge club.
Giroud’s aerial ability means he is often seen as a Plan B and should the Blues end up chasing the game at Wembley, he could yet make the difference in one of his last Chelsea appearances.
Arguably the most in-form player on either side right now is Iheanacho, who has taken leading man status for Leicester with Vardy now acting as his support act. Former Manchester City striker Iheanacho took time to settle at Leicester but he has been on fire of late, with his four goals in this season’s FA Cup the joint most in the competition and making him a certainty to start in the 2021 final.
It was Iheanacho who broke the deadlock at Wembley last month with the only goal in Leicester’s win over Southampton and he also netted twice against Manchester United in the quarter-finals. Keeping Iheanacho quiet will be vital if Chelsea are to lift the trophy for the ninth time.
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