The Leicester City defeat of Chelsea in the FA Cup was brilliant and stunning for various reasons.
The Foxes, having just won their first Premier League trophy five years ago, have now won the oldest trophy in football, the FA Cup. There are so many story lines that are appreciable from this team, especially this season, after everything that occurred at the end of last season, on the final day of the season no less.
I know Brendan Rogers and his team felt embarrassed by falling out of Champions League contention on the final day of the season — after the brilliant year the team had enjoyed under the former Liverpool and Celtic manager.
That the Foxes didn’t play a particularly good Europa League is neither here nor there necessarily. Yet, I imagine they still smarted from, physical injuries aside, those wounds of pride as well.
With this victory in the FA Cup, as well as the form they’ve shown and the record they have currently, it feels assured that this trophy was simply the product of determination, hard work and proper coaching.
For Leicester City, the road is never easy, yet neutral observers (in this instance at least) can find joy in how the Foxes have accomplished this in contrary to what so many of the pundits say and in stark contrast to how other high level clubs operate.
Leicester City: Too determined to become discouraged
When Youri Tielemans fired the beautiful shot that proved the only goal in the 1-0 affair, it felt as though the match was fated to end with a Leicester City victory. When Ben Chilwell’s goal was disallowed just before the game ended, it felt like confirmation of as much.
The team played a brilliant defensive match and when Chelsea fell asleep for just a moment, a brilliant strike of pure confidence rainbowed into the top left corner of the goal was enough to make the Leicester City faithful speechless. In a match where Jamie Vardy got pocketed pretty well by Reece James, it was the entire team that stepped up to stop the remarkably, individually talented Chelsea side.
Yet the story of these Foxes is simply a story of grit and eternal perseverance. It is a show of passion, of industrious and fervent enthusiasm towards the shared objective of so many. They have been amongst the best clubs this season, as well as last season. Where the team faltered towards the end of a COVID-19 fractured campaign last season, they have not this go around.
This time, while the end of any season still produces challenges, the team is playing better, more efficient and impressive football, and remains at the top of a crowded three through six positions of the league table.
With only two matches left, Leicester City has one of the more difficult end stretches, facing a Chelsea side that needs a domestic result all of a sudden having also just lost to the Foxes in the final of the FA Cup. Also a Tottenham side that is desperate to do whatever it can to gain any type of European competition as reports surfaced that Harry Kane wishes to leave north London.
Defeating Thomas Tuchel and the Pensioners again in just a span of days would be impressive and would also seal up at least the number three spot in the table, ensuring Champions League competition next year.
With a loss, things could become a bit scarier for Leicester fans everywhere. While Tottenham can’t catch Leicester City, they can drag the club down towards another Europa League finish, which would certainly be a disappointment after the work they’ve put in over the past few months.
With a loss versus Leicester, Spurs would almost certainly bow out of European contention officially, should they even remain in it after the midweek match against a tough Aston Villa side.
It appears that Brendan Rogers and his outfit are in good shape for a Champions League run. To compete next year with higher financial and squad abilities and to offer their style as a rebuke of the American style owners or big money petrol investors.
They have a proper boss who feels loyal to this team, to the ownership and fan base and they pay their players to remain at the club. It’s not possible to keep superstars like Riyad Mahrez from leaving at a certain point, but so far have managed to keep others like James Madison and Vardy himself.
Across the squad, from young players to older ones, the talent does not usually match the price tag, and the players usually begin to display even more confidence and ability over time. While big spending clubs like Arsenal and Tottenham may not even find European play this season, the smaller, more humble and modest Leicester likely will compete against the best teams in Europe for a chance to show they are the best.
They build from the ground up with youth and with well scouted youngsters from across the world. When they purchase more expensive pieces, they’ve sold other talent before hand. Their owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, having died in a helicopter crash in October 2018, helped them reach the greatest heights of English domestic football and now his son, Aiyawatt, has seen the team win the FA Cup, a trophy of great historical prestige.
While I think it’s a long shot that they could win the Premier League, I would not necessarily bet against them either. Some lucky soul, around six years ago or so, took as great a risk as any when choosing them to win the Premier League out of nowhere. Resolve is something intangible and when a club has that running through its very being, it is difficult to stop, regardless of the obstacles in front of it.