It’s finally here. The FA Cup final. Tuchel took over from Frank Lampard at the end of January with the Blues just progressing from the FA Cup fourth round. Chelsea has come a long way since then.
Tuchel has not played against Leicester City yet, but the fans would remember the last match between these two sides as the match that decided Lampard’s fate. The Blues are just coming away from a defeat at home against Arsenal so they need to fix some things in order to be prepared for this match mentally. Here’s who we think Tuchel hands the ultimate responsibility to bring home the FA Cup:
Kepa Arrizabalaga (No. 1) Goalkeeper, Spain
Arrizabalaga played well against Arsenal, and against every opponent he has played under Tuchel. A testament to that is the fact that he had not conceded a goal under the German until the Arsenal game where Jorginho passed the ball to an empty goalpost. He’s the cup keeper and Tuchel has confirmed that he would start at the cup final. He made two saves against Arsenal and deserved a clean sheet. The Spaniard has conceded just one goal in the run to the FA Cup final, and another would most likely spell the Blues’ name on the FA Cup trophy after 90 minutes.
Cesar Azpilicueta (No. 28) Right centerback, Spain
Azpilicueta has become a key figure in this side and deserves a lot of credit for Chelsea being in the FA Cup final. He wasn’t great against Arsenal, but this is Chelsea’s chance at a first trophy in two seasons, which is weird to say. Chelsea reached this point last season, but fell short in the final. Azpilicueta has benefitted from the change in formation and the Blues’ defensive solidity means they can enter this final with more confidence than they did the last
Thiago Silva (No. 6) Centerback, Brazil
Silva has been superb this season, though he hadn’t really made FA Cup appearances until the semifinal. He was alert in the semifinal against Manchester City, controlling Chelsea’s defensive third and making sure City did not get many good scoring opportunities. His experience is needed in this game and his conduct in the second leg of the Real Madrid Champions league tie shows that he knows what is required of him in high stakes games.
Antonio Rudiger (No. 2) Left centerback, Germany
Rudiger starts not as a punishment to Kurt Zouma, but because he’s the starter and will start when fit. He has been outstanding this season, keeping 11 clean sheets in 17 starts. This is really impressive, with Azpilicueta being the only defender to contribute to more clean sheets (12 in 22). A lot of eyebrows were raised when the German made his first appearance under the new manager, some were outright angry. Gradually many fans have come to the realization that Rudiger is an essential part of Chelsea’s defensive structure, an indication that various systems bring out the best in various players.
Reece James (No. 24) Right wingback, England
James was good in the Arsenal game. He took the last corner of the game and delivered what Mount had failed to do twice. He was a constant source of attacking threat, registering the second most key passes for the Blues (3). He has played very well under Tuchel, which is impressive because Callum Hudson-Odoi was initially favored over him. He has improved his defensive awareness and that would be crucial in this match, as Leicester have a lot of intelligent runners.
N’Golo Kante (No. 7) Central midfielder, France
Kante did not make an appearance against Arsenal, fueling the assumption that he’s being saved for the Leicester City cup final as he should be. Kante would give Chelsea an advantage on Saturday, especially because Leicester City have an equally competent defensive midfielder in Wilfred Ndidi. Though Ndidi expressed irritation at being compared with Kante, he has been almost an exact replica statistically. Ndidi has led Leicester, and in fact the Premier League, in tackles and interceptions for the past two seasons. Kante is still firing on all cylinders though, and while his minutes have had to be managed, his impact on the pitch has not reduced one bit.
Jorginho (No. 5) Central midfielder, Italy
Jorginho made an inexcusable pass in the Arsenal game that ultimately provided the goal for Arsenal. He had no excuse to make that pass because he had enough time to make the correct pass and he had previously looked to where Arrizabalaga was. Many are making the excuse for him that he was under pressure but his role in the squad is to help the Blues bypass pressure. Large sections of ChelsTwit have bent over backwards to make excuses to paint Jorginho as a victim of Zouma’s pass, rather than the culprit. That’s why they’re ChelsTwit though. That said, it was an error, and error that could happen to anyone, and Jorginho doesn’t need to be crucified for it. He’s a very good player and even the best of them have moments like that from time to time. He’d bounce back from it and come back stronger.
Ben Chilwell (No. 21) Left wingback, England
Chilwell wasn’t great against Arsenal. He did create a clear cut chance against Manchester City in the FA Cup semifinal though. Chilwell has become very comfortable in the left wingback role. His passing in recent games has been very good as well, often being the most alert to runners in the frontline. He has a major advantage over Marcos Alonso with his speed, making him more effective in both phases of play, whereas Alonso is only very effective in one.
Hakim Ziyech (No. 22) Right attacking midfielder, Morocco
Ziyech was really effective against Manchester City and Arsenal. He scored the equalizing goal to start the comeback against the Blue Mancunians, and transformed the Blues attack against Arsenal despite being only on the pitch for only 12 minutes in the latter. Its common knowledge that Tuchel prefers other options to him when everyone is fit, but what he brings to the side is important and he’s proven he is highly efficient in big moments.
Mason Mount (No. 21) Left attacking midfielder, England
Mount made the most key passes (4) against Arsenal, though it’s difficult to recall one that was a decent goal scoring opportunity. He has chipped in with 11 goal involvements and 11 big chances created in the league this season. He’s been very good in the Fa Cup though he’s only scored once. His pressing and ball movement are key for how Tuchel wants Chelsea to play so it’s not surprising that he continues to start when fit.
Timo Werner (No. 11) Center forward, Germany
Werner sat out the match against Arsenal, and there was enough to suggest that he shouldn’t have, admittedly, in hindsight. His movement and effectiveness were missed.
He has improved his hold up play recently and has proven valuable to the side. In addition to his 14 goal involvements, he has also created 9 clear cut chances in the league for his teammates. He’s missed a lot of chances, but he has been effective all the same.
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