A spot in the finals of the 2020/21 FA Cup will be on the line when Leicester City face off against Southampton at the Wembley Stadium this weekend.
The second final berth for the 2020/21 FA Cup will be up for grabs as Leicester City locks horns with fellow Premier League side Southampton in the semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday evening. The winner will face off against Chelsea next month, after the Blues defeated Manchester City in the first semi-finals on Saturday.
Leicester City breezed past Stoke City and Brentford in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup before being made to work extremely hard by Brighton & Hove Albion. However, having prevailed by the odd goal, the Foxes eased past Manchester United in the quarter-finals to make it to the penultimate stage of the competition.
However, heading into this titanic clash, Brendan Rodgers’ men are in a bit of a dodgy patch of form, having lost each of their last two games against Manchester City and West Ham United in the Premier League.
Southampton, meanwhile, have put together a fine cup run even though their fortunes have dwindled in the league since the turn of the year. The Saints saw off challenges from Shrewsbury Town, Arsenal and Wolves before beating local rivals Bournemouth 3-0 in the quarter-finals. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have kept a clean sheet in each of their four FA Cup fixtures this term.
Southampton’s form outside the cup competition has been inconsistent at best, as they head into Sunday’s game having won and lost three each of their last six games in all competitions, with their latest game ending in a 3-0 loss to Premier League relegation battlers West Bromwich Albion.
Leicester have already beaten Southampton once this season in the league, in January earlier this year. In what promises to be a momentous occasion for both teams on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the FA Cup semi-final contest.
Team News & Tactics
"The importance of a game of this magnitude, of course, is clear." 🏆
— Leicester City (@LCFC) April 17, 2021
Leicester City have been boosted by the return of Caglar Soyuncu after he was done with his quarantine period while fellow countryman Cengiz Under is also fit and available. In addition to that, the trio of James Maddison, Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez are back in contention after not being involved against West Ham for breaching COVID-19 regulations. James Justin misses out again.
Brendan Rodgers will make some changes to the team that lost to the Hammers last time out. There is no looking past Kasper Schmeichel between the sticks for the Foxes. But the returning Soyuncu should walk right back into the lineup, at the expense of Daniel Amartey. The Turk will slot in as the left-sided centre-back with Jonny Evans at the centre and Wesley Fofana, who has been linked to Manchester United, on the right.
Marc Albrighton was one of Leicester’s few bright performers against West Ham after coming on as a substitute. However, he is once again likely to be overlooked in favour of Ricardo Pereira at right wing-back while Timothy Castagne slots in on the left. The duo will be key to providing the width and delivering crosses for the forwards to attack.
Youri Tielemans and Wilfred Ndidi will form the double pivot in the middle of the park. The former will look to push forward and get involved in attacks while the latter will screen the backline. While Maddison is back in contention, given how he has not played a lot of football in recent months, Perez could slot into the hole behind the two strikers, who ought to be Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Schmeichel; Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu; Pereira, Tielemans, Ndidi, Castagne; Perez; Iheanacho, Vardy
Southampton will be without the services of Oriol Romeu and Will Smallbone due to injuries and even though Michael Obafemi has returned to training, Sunday’s game comes too soon for him. On-loan Liverpool star Takumi Minamino is ineligible for the contest.
Aiming for a first #FACup final in 18 years 🏆
We caught up with Ralph Hasenhüttl ahead of tomorrow's Wembley showdown with #LCFC:
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 17, 2021
Ralph Hasenhuttl will set his team up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Fraser Forster on Sunday evening. Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard will form the centre-back pairing, who will have the unenviable task of dealing with Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho. Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand are the obvious choices for the full-back slots.
Ibrahima Diallo should slot in as the enforcer in the middle of the park for the Saints, with support coming from captain James Ward-Prowse, who will pose a major threat from his set-piece deliveries. Moussa Djenepo showed some spark after coming on as a substitute against West Brom and could replace Theo Walcott on the flanks, with Stuart Armstrong likely to be retained in the lineup.
Danny Ings is Southampton’s biggest goal threat and therefore a certain starter at Wembley. He should, however, be in for a change of partners though, with Che Adams set to get a chance on the big stage ahead of Nathan Redmond, who will be used as an impact substitute.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Djenepo; Adams, Ings
- This will be Leicester City’s eighth appearance in an FA Cup semi-final (W4 L3) and their first since 1982 when they lost to eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur.
- Southampton have won their last two FA Cup meetings with Leicester City beating them 1-0 in January 2006 and 2-0 in January 2008.
- Leicester City beat Southampton 2-0 in the Premier League earlier this season. They have not beaten the Saints twice in a single campaign across all competitions since the 2011/12 Championship.
- Southampton have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four FA Cup games. They could become the first team to reach the finals of the competition without conceding since Everton did so in 1965/66.
- Jamie Vardy has scored in all three of his appearances at Wembley for Leicester, with the veteran striker responsible for four of the Foxes’ six goals scored at the ground since its reopening.
Player to Watch
Make that nine goals in six games now for Kelechi Iheanacho. https://t.co/wzlFV4xXYZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 11, 2021
The man who has been hugely responsible for Leicester City to make it to the FA Cup semi-finals, it was Iheanacho who scored the late winner against Brighton in the fifth round before netting twice and assisting another in the quarter-finals against Manchester United. Coming into the game, the 24-year-old has scored nine goals in his last six games in all competitions. And he will be hoping to carry on in his rich goalscoring form on Sunday.
Since the start of the 2015/16 season, the Nigerian has scored more FA Cup goals than any other player (13), finding the back of the net on average once every 78 minutes in the competition. Brendan Rodgers and the Leicester City supporters will be hoping for more of the same from Iheanacho at Wembley this weekend.
Leicester City 2-0 Southampton
Leicester fell to a surprise defeat to West Ham in the league last time out while Southampton too suffered a humbling loss at the hands of West Bromwich Albion.
The Foxes, though, should have the edge on Sunday as the likes of Caglar Soyuncu, James Maddison and Ayoze Perez are all back in contention. Factoring in the form that Kelechi Iheanacho has been, Brendan Rodgers’s men should be able to pull off a victory and set up a finals meeting with Chelsea.