Leicester City’s semi-final affair at the new Wembley Stadium is the club’s eighth appearance at this stage of the competition; the first since 1982. The Foxes enter the vital clash on the back of two consecutive Premier League defeats, since convincingly ousting Manchester United 3-1 in the quarter-final.
Southampton come into the game off the back of an astonishing three goal thumping at the hands of relegation-bound West Bromwich Albion. The Saints previously outclassed Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium to proceed to the semi-final stage.
It has been 13 years since these two sides last faced each other in the competition – Southampton running out 2-0 victors in the 3rd round at the St Mary’s Stadium - with only a few match weeks left before the curtain falls down, both teams have a shot at claiming their only title of the season.
Here are the expected starters for both sides in the highly anticipated FA Cup knockout encounter:
Brendan Rodgers is expected to start with a familiar 3-4-1-2 or 3-5-2 set-up.
Leicester faced West Ham United in the previous matchday, without a host of players including James Maddison, Ayoze Perez & Hamza Choudhury, who were all dropped due to breach of coronavirus protocols.
Caglar Soyuncu, who missed the clash against the Hammers due to testing positive for Covid-19, has reportedly flown back to England and is in contention to appear alongside Jonny Evans & Wesley Fofana in defence.
Rodgers looks unlikely to make huge changes as Ayoze Perez & Marc Albrighton look like the only changes upfront from the previous outing at the London Stadium.
Leicester City XI: Schmeichel; Fofana, Evans, Soyuncu; Castagne Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton; Perez; Vardy, Iheanacho.
Ralph Hassenhuttl’s 4-4-2 has been the club’s go-to formation for most part of the season.
Michael Obafemi, William Smallbone & Oriol Romeu remain the only known long term injuries. There are no significant injury news regarding the starters. Kyle Walker-Peters looked doubtful to start against West Brom last weekend, due to a slight knock, but in the end, he did.
Moussa Djenepo looks likely to start ahead of Theo Walcott and pair up with Stuart Armstrong on the wings, after he was left out on the bench last match day.
Che Adams might receive the nod ahead of Nathan Redmond, given his dynamism and strength on the ball to contend against Leicester’s three man defence.
Southampton XI: Forster; Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand; Djenepo, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Armstrong; Adams, Ings.
Although both the clubs enter the limelight with not-so-ideal results in preparation for this decisive semi-final clash, Rodgers’ Foxes have had a fairly decent season in comparison to Hassenhuttl’s Saints.
Leicester will have more momentum going into the match, having dispatched Manchester United previously. The Southampton defence has conceded 56 goals in the Premier League alone – the second-worst season record so far - only after 19th placed West Brom.
They will face the dangerous strike partnership of Jamie Vardy & Kelechi Iheanacho, who look very likely to score goals. However, the game will most probably be decided in midfield, and Leicester possess one of the best pairings in England with Wilfred Ndidi & Youri Tielemans.
If Southampton need to muster anything out of the game, they will have to outwit the Foxes in the center of the pitch.
Leicester are the favorites to play their first FA Cup final since 1969.
Leicester City 3-1 Southampton
FA Cup semi-final match officials - Leicester City vs Southampton
Kick off: Sunday 18 April 2021 (6.30pm)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant referees: Dan Cook & Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: David Coote
Reserve assistant: Nick Hopton
VAR: Paul Tierney
AVAR: Adam Nunn