Leicester midfielder Tielemans scores Cup final classic from long range
Ben Chilwell thought he had equalised in the 89th minute but was judged offside after Var review
The roar at Wembley Stadium was for an FA Cup final-winning goal for the ages from Youri Tielemans and the visceral reaction it let loose across this long-silent game felt like a much-anticipated reawakening: football as it should be is back at last.
This was the final when 21,000 supporters returned to the stands to give the game back its voice, and the drama to go with it was quite exquisite. For Chelsea, a great FA Cup force, this was the second straight Wembley final when they had to accept second best, beaten by a club who have defied in recent years the notion of what is possible. To their first league championship from 2016, Leicester City added their first FA Cup in 137 years, and they did so with a second-half goal of astonishing quality from their Belgian midfielder Tielemans.
It might not get them a place in any European Super League, but it did mean that the first major event with significant supporter numbers in more than a year was an electrifying occasion when the notional underdogs defied English football’s notional elite.
Tielemans’s goal was not the only moment when the great roar of Wembley would rise in the throats of both sets of supporters. The game would twist twice more, first when an own goal by veteran Leicester captain Wes Morgan, on the pitch as a substitute in his first game since December, seemed to have given Chelsea an 89th-minute equaliser by deflecting a loose ball into his own goal. This was Chelsea’s moment of reprieve, or so they thought, but the noise from the Leicester end when the Var Chris Kavanagh conveyed an offside for Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell in the build-up was just as fierce.
This wonderful afternoon had it all, if one could look past a rather mediocre game. The celebrations at the end for Leicester seemed to mark a moment of renewal for the return of fans to games and the start again of football feeling like football once more. For Brendan Rodgers, thrown in the air by his players in celebration, this was a great triumph – he got his team right. Now he has to do that once more when they meet again with Chelsea on Tuesday for a league game that will have a major say on the Champions League places.
No rest for either manager, although Thomas Tuchel, whose players and staff had the long Wembley wait at the end without even a runners-up medal presentation, will know that he got this one wrong. The wrong team against Arsenal on Wednesday night, by his own admission, and some big Wembley decisions that backfired. He went for Marcos Alonso over Chilwell, who was excellent as a substitute with a point to prove against his former team, and very nearly did. There was another troubling afternoon of ineffectiveness from Timo Werner.
His place in Tuesday’s side must surely be in jeopardy. How he stayed on the pitch quite as long as 82 minutes was a mystery and once again the feeling was that Chelsea are just trying too hard to make this £59 million player into a success. He is not the only one. In goal, Tuchel stayed with Kepa Arrizabalaga and, while the case can be made that no goalkeeper would have got close to Tielemans’s match-winning strike, you would certainly say that Edouard Mendy would have got a lot closer.
Chelsea’s new German manager has revived their season in ways few could have foreseen, but this was a bad afternoon for him. As for Rodgers, he seemed to react to the challenge better. His team had much less of the ball, but that never rattled them in the slightest. Nor the loss of Jonny Evans with 10 minutes of the first half remaining – his longstanding heel injury apparently resurfacing. Timothy Castagne was switched to the right side of the three centre-backs and Marc Albrighton, an outstanding performer at Old Trafford on Tuesday, came on to take the right wing-back role.
Where were the chances for Chelsea until the very end, when Kasper Schmeichel made brilliant saves from Chilwell and Mason Mount? Before that there was a header from Thiago Silva’s cross that Werner never reached. Mount was the best of Chelsea’s front three and Hakim Ziyech, another who stayed on too long, the most forgettable.
There was a roar of frustration from Tuchel when it came to Werner being bounced perfunctorily off the ball by Tielemans with five minutes of the second half played. The game was stuck at that moment, with one side comfortable but unthreatening in possession and the other comfortable without it. The two defences were dominant and the game required a great jolt. It came from Tielemans’s right boot, a vicious straight hit that found the top corner.
There were other factors worthy of consideration that created the right conditions for the goal. The loose pass from Reece James that bounced off Ayoze Perez and to the feet of Leicester teenager Luke Thomas. The retreating line of blue shirts in front of Tielemans giving him space as he strode forward, and finally the dive of Kepa. It needed a great save, and nothing this goalkeeper has done since he arrived at Chelsea suggested he would ever be remotely close to it.
This was a classic FA Cup goal, struck by one of Europe’s most talented young footballers ahead of whom there is surely a glittering career – and wherever he ends up he will be grateful that he chose Leicester for this part of it. In the closing stages both managers changed up, and Tuchel sent on all his attacking options, including Chilwell, Kai Havertz, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud.
For Rodgers there was James Maddison and then a long discussion with his staff before he brought on Morgan and Hamza Choudhury. At 37, Morgan, Leicester’s Premier League-winning captain, seems to have grown even more solid through his months of inaction. He was there to head the ball out and try not to make any challenges he was not absolutely certain he could not win.
Then Chilwell broke behind the Leicester defence after 89 minutes and, although Caglar Soyuncu blocked his shot, it went in off Morgan. In that moment it felt like two substitutions – the quicksilver Chilwell and the rather less quicksilver Morgan – had changed the game, but Var made its correction and the final was over.
That's all from me
There is so much you could say about Leicester's second-half performance, their ownership, Brendan Rodgers and Var. But I think this evening and that cup final will be remembered as the day football started to fell like football again. The noise when Tielemans' cracker hit the back of the net was a joy. Let's hope we see more of that in the months ahead.
So happy I can't begin to describe it. What a day. Indescribable, it's what dreams are made of, I've dreamt about this since I was child, we have talked about wanting to win trophies. The performance today, the grit and determination, I'm so proud of everybody, everybody contributed to get to the final everyone has played and been sensational. Everyone behind the scenes, all the team behind the team, medical staff and everyone. That's why when you work together and do things properly and you have an internal belief that's what we can achieve."
Off comes the lid
Leciester really are a model for other clubs
Brendan going up
Prince William hands over the trophy to Kasper Schmeichel
Leicester are FA Cup winners 2021!
Time for the trophy
Brendan Rodgers was given the bumps by his players. It is his first major trophy in English football...
As the full time whistle blew
It barely tells the full story
Leicester are the winners!
The celebrations are a thing of beauty
The Leicester players are sprinting around the pitch and celebrating with their fans for the first time in 14 months. Some of them look really emotional.
FULL TIME! Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Soyuncu wins another big header at the back and that's it! Leicester in their first FA Cup having lost four finals previously in their history. Youri Tielemans goal was the difference and they got away with one heck of a close shave after Ben Chilwell's goal was disallowed for a really tight offside.
It was a slow burner, but Chelsea let too much of that second half drift. Leicester the better side second half.
94 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
The ball is down the wrong end as far as Chelsea are concerned but they launch one last long ball forward. Soyuncu got up above Giroud. Chelsea have not really threatened since the disallowe dgoal.
92 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Chelsea running out of time and Soyuncu has won a foul on halfway. Almost there Leicester....
Five minutes of added time to play!
What a finish this could be. Chelsea are fuming but still have time.
Var check: NO GOAL!
Chiwell is judged offside! It was so, so close like so many of these decisions this season. Leicester will be pleased but it will leave a sour taste for some.
GOOOOOAAAALLL! Chelsea have equalised at the death
Former Leicester man Chilwell is leading the celebrations but I think it might be an own goal. Silva picked him out with a magnificent diagonal , his initial effort bounced off Soyuncu on the line and back into the Chelsea man and in.
87 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
WHAT A SAVE SCHMEICHEL! Giroud made a nuisance of himself from a cross, and Mount caught a half-volley so sweetly from just inside the area and Schmeichel's outstretched left hand tipped it round the post. Mount and the 10,000 Chelsea thought that was in.
86 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
The corner came to nothing after Vardy mis-cued an attempted flick. Chelsea coming forward again. They need a great escape of their own now to win from here.
85 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Giroud gets a pass out to Chilwell all wrong. Famous last words, but Leicester starting to look quite comfortable hear. Chelsea look one-paced and out of ideas.
Vardy latches on to a long ball in front of Thiago Silva, and after a fantastic battle the Chelsea defender puts it behind for a Leicester corner!
82 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Leicester making changes too: Wes Morgan has come on to deal with Giroud and Choudhury is about to come on as well. Rudiger takes a silly shot from distance, that Leicester will be delighted with. Flies out for a goal kick.
80 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Chelsea starting to knock the ball around deep in the Leicester half. Kante found Mount in space on the edge of the box but Soyuncu blocked his cross. Olivier Giroud on for Timo Wener.
78 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
BIG save from Schmeichel for the first time in the game! It was the two former Leicester players who combined - Kante's cross was met by Chilwell at the back stick but the goalkeeper plunged to his right to pluck it from the bottom corner. Maybe have been going in off the post. Leicester survive.
75 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Another Chelsea change on the way: Kai Havertz is coming on in place of Jorginho. Hudson-Odoi is also on Azpilicueta. Thomas is down after a head injury but he looks capable of carrying on.
72 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
James whips in another Chelsea corner but it is met by a Leicester head. Azpilicueta's cross is blocked and Chelsea have a throw deep in Leicester territory. The pressure is starting to grow but Maddison wins a foul to relieve the pressure.
70 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Chelsea are starting to gain territory as you might expect but Leicester are standing firm. Mount tries to take something happen but the ball was running away from him and Soyuncu kept his composure.
68 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Maddison comes on for Perez. Chelsea changes: Pulisic for Ziyech and Chilwell for Alonso.
65 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 1
Chelsea have not started playing in the second half, Leicester have been worth that goal. They immediately win a corner but Fofana wins the header. This is set up perfectly now.
GOOOOOOAAAALLL! What a strike from Tielemans
That is a bona fide, Ronnie Radford-style FA Cup screamer. Chelsea gave the ball away in their own half, Perez rolled the ball inside for Tielemans. He had options right and left, but put his head down and rifled a right-footed shot into the top corner from more than 25 yards. Kepa no chance. Leicester have the lead.
62 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
The sun finally comes out at Wembley. Pulisic is receiving some instruction from the Chelsea coaching staff.
On the pitch, Chelsea find Ziyech in a pocket of space but Azpilicueta gets his delivery all wrong with the low cross and Schmeichel claims easily. Vardy stretches James and the Chelsea defence and Leicester regain some control.
60 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Vardy's run in behind forced Thiago Silva into some last-ditch defending on the stretch and Leicester win a throw in a good position. Albrighton wins another after playing the ball off Marcos Alonso. Much better from Leicester, their fans are vocal now. Good feet from Albrighton close to the touchline and Rudiger hacks his cross behind for a corner.
58 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Leicester maybe starting to grow in confidence. They are pressing as a unit more effectively, breaking play up and stopping Chelsea from getting in a rhythm. Maddison is warming up on the sidelines.
56 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Werner flagged for offside. Leicester get into a promising position through Iheanacho down the right, he lays the ball back to Tielemans who delivered a wicked ball into the box which James read well. Leicester corner on the way. The initial corner is cleared, but then the follow up glances off Alonso for a throw deep in Chelsea territory.
53 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Good challenge from Soyuncu but Kante gets back at the heels of Ndidi to win the ball back for Chelsea in trademark style. Kante stands a cross up to the back post after a good pass from Jorginho, but Alonso's header lacks power and Schmeichel saves.
51 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Game starting to open up a bit now. Kepa does well to rush off his line an intercept in behind for Vardy, then Fofana and Tielemans win big tackles to stop Werner in his tracks. Fofana has been excellent so far, especially since moving central. Tielemans catches Jorginho but gets away without a booking.
49 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Fofana misjudged header allowing Werner to get in down the left but the defender recovers to ease Mount out close to the by-line. Soyuncu runs down a blind alley trying to dribble the ball into Chelsea's half.
47 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Leicester do have a throw deep in the Chelsea half but once again Iheanacho has been eased out of it. Kanre looks for Werner over the top but Soyuncu was watching it all the way.
We're back under way
Chelsea settle into another period of possession.
Leicester need to be a bit braver on the ball
It looks like they are waiting for a Chelsea central defensive mistake but Thiago Silva and Rudiger look in full control so far.
Probably the best piece of skill in that half
HT: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Chelsea started the stronger, with Leicester allowing them to find passes to the feet of Werner and Mount too easily. Strangely, Leicester may have played better since the half-fit Evans went off. Fofana and Thomas impressive.
Neither goalkeeper seriously tested so far though.
47 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Chelsea finish the half with a corner but Vardy belts it clear after Azpilicueta won first contact.
45 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Nice clip into the box from Tielemans but Vardy's glancing header was always going to be a tough one to pull off from distance. It drifts past the past.
Two minutes of added time.
44 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Albrighton with a loose pass and Werner's shot from distance flicks off Fofana and goes past the post for a corner. James' corner flies all the way out for a goal kick. Werner grimacing a touch, he may have hurt himself in that sliding tackle.
42 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Leicester growing into this game now, Thomas driving them forward down the left. Now they have the chance to deliver the ball into the penalty area after a foul from Jorginho. He escapes without a yellow.
Thomas whips it in but Soyuncu was too far past the near post to work the header on target.
40 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Brilliant defending from Fofana to track the run of Werner and block his shot not once but twice after Ziyech poked a through ball into the Leicester block. Werner then gets a yellow card for a late tackle, the Leicester fans are baying for more but nothing doing.
38 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Fofana is now the player up against Werner, which might help Leicester squeeze up the pitch and prevent the Chelsea forwards getting the ball to feet. Ziyech brings down Thomas on halfway.
35 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
The crowd really getting involved now after a late Castagne challenge on Mount and then Fofana catches Werner. Fofana gets the booking as does Castagne. Not going according to plan for Leicester but they are unscathed.
33 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Albrighton is about to come on for Evans, which hints at a change of shape. Or perhaps Castagne will move to the right of the back three with Albrighton at wing-back.
31 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Ndidi with a pass behind Iheanacho that goes straight out of play. A worry for Leicester here...they gambled on the fitness of Jonny Evans and he has collapsed to the turf and waved to the bench. A gut punch for Leicester and Evans, but it's a risk you take by gambling on a player in a final.
The players emerging
29 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Werner finding room in front of that Leicester back three again, but he shoots wildly over from distance after they backed away. Ziyech teases a cross to the back post and Chelsea win another corner. No doubt they have had the better of the game so far but Schmeichel has not really been tested.
Oooohh, so close for Chelsea. On the second phase from the corner Mount gets in and stands the ball up to the back post. Thiago Silva collected and curled one towards the far corner but Werner's flick took it off Azpilicueta's head. Certain goal otherwise.
26 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Leicester get a welcome period of possession, though most of it in their own half. They quicken the pace through Perez down the left though and Tielemans sees a long-range shot blocked. Ndidi then fouls Werner on halfway.
24 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
The rain is lashing down now. Great defending in the box from Tielemans after Ziyech's pull back found Alonso. Then Chelsea find Mount again in that pocket of space to the right, and he drives inside and shoots just wide of the near post. Fofana actually got a touch, Chelsea corner. Schmeichel takes.
22 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Pitch getting greasy now and that was a delightful flick to Azpilicueta from Mount. The ball was laid back to him and his cross-shot was deflected away from danger. Chelsea look dangerous when they fire the ball forward early like that.
20 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Thiago Silva penalised for handball after Iheanacho pushed the ball past him out wide. The defender did not know much about it but the touch prevented Iheanacho from rounding him.
Tielemans whips the cross in but Soyuncu's stooping header goes over.
18 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
The ball gets into the feet of Werner again, through the middle of Leicester. Evans commits the foul. Leicester have to block off that avenue, you can't allow passes into your defensive third that easily. A bit of light rain now falling at Wembley. Looks like Leicester are matching up Chelsea with Perez left and Iheanacho right rather than next to Vardy.
16 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
That was Leicester's best moment so far. Lovely clip over the top from Tielemans to Castagne who beats Alonso down that flank. His pull back is a good one for Vardy but his shot is blocked by Thiago Silva. Good move.
14 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Leicester boxed in close to their own corner flag. Chelsea continuing to boss territory. Rudiger's diagonal towards Azpilicueta flies out of play for a Leicester throw. Chelsea regain the ball quickly again, but Rudiger's shot from distance goes well wide.
12 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Chelsea get the ball into the feet of Mount straight for a throw-in and Soyuncu barges into his back. Chelsea the better side so far, finding some space between the lines. Tielemans now fouls Jorginho on halfway.
10 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Vardy lets James know he is there, but the sliding tackle puts the ball out for a Chelsea goal kick. Interestingly, it looks like James is playing as right centre-back with Azpilicueta at wing-back. It pays dividends there as James eased Vardy out as he tried to latch on to a ball over the top. Could be a good battle. James presumably preferred for his extra pace.
8 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Chelsea have another corner. Ziyech to take this one from the right, so an inswinger. Alonso challenged for it at the back post, but Leicester struggle to clear their lines until Ziyech fouls Perez.
6 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Azpilicueta's cross deflects off Thomas for a corner. Really bright start from Chelsea. James whipped it in but a Leicester head got there first to clear.
4 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
There are reports that there was some booing of taking the knee at kick-off, but there was plenty of applause from both sets of supporters too, Chelsea looking the more composed of the teams in the early minutes.
Another Werner flick in behind Soyuncu finds the run of Mount. Fofana gets in well to win a challenge with Alonso. Chelsea back in the ball quickly though.
2 minutes: Chelsea 0 Leicester 0
Werner gets in behind down the right channel of Leicester's back three but Schmeichel claims his low cross easily. Leicester have a throw in the Chelsea half but it goes all the way through for a goal kick.
Another nice touch from Werner and he latches on to Ziyech's through ball, but Evans is there to cut out the ball in. Two early jabs landed by Chelsea and Werner, looking dangerous.
Leicester get us started, playing in a maroon kit.
Fans are back!
The players are on their way out
After a rendition of Abide With Me the players emerge to an almighty roar that really raises the spirits. Even just 21,000 fans at Wembley makes such a difference, there is a sense of occasion that has been missing from the last year.
"I've had worse days in my life. You cannot get much better. I feel grateful to arrive at a strong club with a strong team. It is quite a big day and we absolutely want to win. We know that is going to be tough but the mind is clear - we want that trophy.
"We were angry with ourselves and the performance [in defeat against Arsenal]. Sometimes it is good to have a lesson to learn before a big match. We can play sharper and we can show we learnt our lesson. We want to be at our very best because that is necessary against a good Leicester side."
"We would love to do that [repay the owners' support]. Every supporter in the country would look at the Leicester story - the way they have put Leicester on the map is remarkable, and if we can do it today it would be a wonderful tribute."
Jamie Vardy in his first FA Cup final
The tactical battle
Both teams lining up in similar systems so will be lots of one v one battles all over the pitch. The one difference is Chelsea playing two creators behind one forward, whereas Leicester have two strikers high and one player in behind.
Uche Amako had a look at where the game could be won and lost here.
The Tuchel effect
Kasper Schmeichel speaks:
"It's an amazing occasion and something I've dreamt of all my life.
"The fans of Leicester know how long it's been since we've been in a final like this and its an amazing opportunity for all of us.
"Being at Wembley with fans after the year we've all had, it's a sign of progress and hopefully a sign of what's to come.
"We know a win here would mean a great deal to the owners and show all the hours and investment they put into the club is paying off."
The two managers greet
Kepa in goal for Chelsea
Which should give Leicester some encouragement. It seems the way that clubs trust their back-up goalkeepers to start cup finals though, tellingly, Leicester have not pursued the same policy.
Cup final traditions
Many have fallen by the wayside over the years but a modern one has emerged...Gary Lineker teasing Alan Shearer about never winning the FA Cup. He is off the mark early today with his first dig.
The sartorial battle
Leicester are in dark suits but Chelsea are in tracksuits and polo shirts. A little too casual?
Leicester team: Perez starts ahead of Maddison and a back three
Chelsea team and subs: Ziyech and Werner back in the side
Tuchel has also gone with his more offensive wing-backs in Reece James and Marcos Alonso.
Chelsea's Mr Dependable
Thomas Tuchel became the eighth man Azpilicueta has played for at Stamford Bridge, when he succeeded Frank Lampard as head coach, with the Spaniard’s trophy count currently on six.Azpilicueta will captain Chelsea in the FA Cup and Champions League finals, having also taken his position count up to four under Tuchel after adding right wing-back to centre-back, right-back and left-back.In many ways, no one player better exemplifies the regular changes of direction Chelsea take while somehow remaining on course for silverware.
Fans getting into the stadium
Jamie Vardy interview
Leicester's main man says winning the FA Cup would be the crowing glory of his career the last box ticked. Vardy also speaks about the death of his former team-mate James Dean. You can read the interview in full here.
I got a message from both of our old team-mates, to let me know just as it had been released in the newspapers. I think what it does show is the things that go off during lockdown. I know a lot of the lower leagues were just cancelling the season. If you've not got that in your life then it must be hard when you're locked up at home as well.
Leicester have arrived
Inside the Tuchel revolution
Some fantastic detail in this piece by Matt Law on the behind-the-scenes changes Tuchel has overseen since taking over at Chelsea. They include: throwing out conventional wisdom, meditation and consulting his favourite book The Captain Class.
Fans told to stay out of pubs on their way to games
By Ben Rumsby
Football fans attending matches in hotspots for the Indian variant of coronavirus were last night warned to stay out of pubs and avoid using public transport there.
Ahead of tomorrow’s long-awaited return of crowds to sport, a leading public health expert also questioned plans to allow large numbers of spectators at indoor events until the new variant was under control.
Professor Gabriel Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health section of the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of Independent SAGE, told the Sunday Telegraph he did not oppose the return of crowds of up to 10,000 at English football matches despite the rise in the UK of a variant feared to be 50 per cent more transmissible than its Kent equivalent.
But, citing the increased risk of indoor versus outdoor transmission, he did warn fans travelling to games in Indian variant hotspots not to use public transport and to stay out of pubs – which are being allowed to serve a limited number of customers at the bar from tomorrow.
“People should avoid them,” he said. “Fans should avoid going into crowded spaces anywhere on their travels.”
As well as the return of crowds in the thousands at Premier League football matches and other major outdoor sports from tomorrow, up to 1,000 spectators will be allowed to watch indoor events such as tennis, snooker and darts.
“Indoor venues will still be problematic,” Prof Scally said.
“If there’s a much more infectious variant on the loose, it kind of changes the game.
“Whilst places might have been assessed as Covid-secure for earlier versions of the virus, a much more infectious version obviously changes that.”
Boris Johnson admitted on Friday the Indian variant could “pose serious disruption” to plans to end almost all Covid-19 restrictions on June 21 – Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap out of the third national lockdown.
That cast doubt on the return of bigger crowds for this summer’s European Championship and beyond.
Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary posted on Twitter yesterday: “The crucial road map date for theatres, music venues and sports has always been step 4, so I understand this is an anxious time as we assess the situation over the next couple of weeks.
“We continue to make good progress with the vaccine rollout and with testing the safe return of audiences through the Events Research Programme, but must accept we enter a period of heightened vigilance with the new fast-moving variant.
“We will keep engaging with, and updating, organisations to allow everyone to plan their full reopening.”
Some early team news
A tense afternoon in prospect at Wembley
Chelsea and Leicester City meet in an FA Cup final with some fascinating sub-plots: two clubs battling for Champions League qualification, Thomas Tuchel trying to put his first Chelsea trophy on the mantelpiece, N'Golo Kante and Ben Chilwell against their former club and Leicester trying to win the first FA Cup in their history.
Leicester have not won a major domestic cup competition since the 2000 League Cup, although did of course win a Premier League title against all odds in 2016. Leicester arguably look better equipped to remain among English football's elite now under Brendan Rodgers, who has guided them to the brink of Champions League qualification but is looking to win his first major trophy in England. Rodgers has won all six of his finals as a manager though: the Championship play-off with Swansea City in 2010-11, and three League Cups and two Scottish Cups with Celtic. Leicester are waiting to discover if Jonny Evans, Ricardo Pereira and James Maddison will be fit to start. They have saved their best for days away from the King Power this season, so are a dangerous opponent.
Chelsea have been on this stage before of course, losing to Arsenal at Wembley in 2017 and 2020 but beating Manchester United to lift the FA Cup for the eighth time in their history in 2018. Tuchel's team have been one of the form teams in the country since arrival - beating Liverpool, Manchester City (twice), Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid - with a rock solid defensive record. However, they have been held to four goalless draws in the league and were frustrated by Arsenal on Wednesday night. Chelsea have sometimes struggled to break down deep-lying defences, at their best on the counter-attack, and Leicester will look to employ a similar approach today. They might need to be patient.
Full team news on the way around 4.15pm.