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‘Chelsea Have Got To Lift Themselves Up’

Chelsea will be aiming to bounce back immediately from their Emirates FA Cup final disappointment as they continue a pursuit of Champions League football, says Simon Johnson, Chelsea reporter for The Athletic.
More on this story...

- Chelsea face Leicester City at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Tuesday night 
- The Foxes overcame the Blues in Saturday's Emirates FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium
- The Athletic’s Simon Johnson has previewed the third against fourth clash, highlighting its importance to Chelsea’s top four ambitions
- The Blues will also feel determined to come back strongly from their cup final defeat, he adds

The Blues will come up against Leicester City once more on Tuesday evening, but this time in the Premier League, as third meets fourth at Stamford Bridge (8:15pm kick-off BST).

And even without the quest to pick up three vital points in the penultimate league fixture of the campaign, Thomas Tuchel’s side will feel they have a score to settle when City arrive in West London.  

Youri Tielemans’ goal handed the Foxes a maiden FA Cup trophy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, providing more final heartbreak for the capital-based club, which they will now look to use as motivation for this latest encounter, Johnson believes.

“It’s easy to say revenge, but there will be an element of that,” he admitted when speaking to LCFC TV. “Understandably, there was a lot of despondency in the camp after what was a very disappointing defeat.

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Thomas Tuchel
Thomas Tuchel

The Chelsea manager is likely to make changes to his team for the Foxes' visit to Stamford Bridge.

“This wasn’t just their first FA Cup Final defeat; this was a second successive cup final defeat and you only had to look at the images of the players watching Leicester celebrate to see how hurt and gutted they were.

“In a way, it’s a blessing that they’ve got this game so soon afterwards and they haven’t got time to dwell on it, they’ve got to lift themselves up because, arguably, for the club, this is a bigger game.

“Potentially some Leicester fans, perhaps only a minority, would agree. It’s about Champions League football and all the money it brings and the impact it has on the summer transfer window.

“Chelsea have had no time to sulk. They had a team meeting on Sunday and it’s very much trying to get back to business as usual.”

Discussing the potential starting XI to be fielded by the Blues, Johnson expects Tuchel to tinker with his side, not least because the game is being played little over 72 hours after the Wembley final. There could also be several key players returning from recent injuries for this important clash with the Foxes.

Top four football is massive for Chelsea. They spent an absolute fortune last summer and it would be a big disappointment if they follow up an FA Cup loss with failing to finish in the top four.

Simon Johnson Chelsea Reporter, The Athletic

The journalist explained: “[Ben] Chilwell will definitely start on Tuesday at left-wing back. He should have started on Saturday, as he showed in his appearance as a substitute.

“I think it’s a sign of respect to Leicester and Tuchel showing his hand to the top four race, that it was in view of saving Chilwell for Tuesday. The decision will now be defensively, the big call was playing Reece James as a right sided centre-back.

“That took us all by surprise because Reece James has not played in that position before. Chelsea lost his attacking input on the right flank, and he was the one who gave the ball away for Leicester’s goal.

“There’s also Thiago Silva. He’s not tended to play two games in such a short amount of time. Andreas Christensen, who is his regular back-up, is back in training. He was being saved for Tuesday, he didn’t make the bench on Saturday.

“The other question mark is Mateo Kovačić. He’s not played since 10 April against Crystal Palace. He was very touch and go for the final and didn’t make the bench, either. The other selection issue is the front three.

“It didn’t really work on Saturday, Timo Werner and [Hakim] Ziyech were disappointing so I think Kai Havertz, you have to expect he will potentially feature from the start and Christian Pulisic, who came off the bench.”

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Reece James
Reece James

England defender Reece James operated in an unfamiliar position during Saturday's Emirates FA Cup Final.

Fourth-placed Chelsea currently sit two points behind Leicester with two games of the season remaining, and several other clubs also still in contention for a top four spot.

The Blues have another potential route into the UEFA Champions League, should they triumph in the 2020/21 showpiece against Manchester City.

“This game is huge anyway and has been made even bigger by Liverpool’s last-minute winner at West Brom,” he added. “They’ve got three finals now, obviously even if they beat Leicester, they’ve still got a job to do against Aston Villa.

“To finish above Leicester, they have to win this game. Leicester have got Tottenham on the final day, and they are sniffing around European football, too. So, Chelsea will be thinking this is an opportunity to still finish above Leicester in the table.

“Top four football is massive for Chelsea. They spent an absolute fortune last summer and it would be a big disappointment if they follow up an FA Cup loss with failing to finish in the top four.

“They’ve still got one more chance in the Champions League Final, but they’ve got more of a chance by beating Leicester and Villa than beating the Premier League champions, even though they’ve done it a couple of times recently.”

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