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Leicester City v Chelsea: 5 Talking Points as Ross Barkley fires Blues to the FA Cup semi-finals | FA Cup 2019-20

Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley's 63rd minute goal sent Chelsea to the FA Cup semi-final
Ishu Roy
ANALYST
Modified 28 Jun 2020, 23:21 IST
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A 63rd minute goal from Ross Barkley proved enough for Chelsea to march on to the FA Cup semi-final, as they beat Leicester City by a goal to nil at the King Power stadium.

It was a well-deserved win for Chelsea, but the game was far from a plain sail. The Foxes came out all guns blazing in the first-half, clearly running more, creating the better opportunities and disturbing their opposition's preparations with a ferocious start.

Frank Lampard had enough from what he had seen from the touch line, and thus, he decided to make three changes at half-time. It undoubtedly paid off, with Barkley finding the back of the net through a brilliant cross from Willian.

While Lampard sealed his semi-final spot for the first time in his managerial career, Brendan Rodgers' winless record against Chelsea now stretches to 15 games.

On that note, we look at the major talking points from the game between Leicester City and Chelsea.


#1 Leicester rock Chelsea with early pressure

Harvey Barnes had a couple of glorious opportunities early on
Harvey Barnes had a couple of glorious opportunities early on

Unexpectedly, Leicester flew out of the blocks to stun the Blues before they could even attain any sort of shape.

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Harvey Barnes and Jamie Vardy exchanged quick one-twos inside the opening 20 seconds, reminding Chelsea why they are ahead of them in the EPL table. Lampard's men could barely clear their lines against a high-pressing Leicester unit.

The likes of Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen were closed down in no time by the blue shirts, who forced them to send the ball back without any intention of passing.

Chelsea just couldn't settle, with Gilmour, Emerson and Zouma all at fault for giving the ball away.

However, by the 16th minute, Chelsea had completed 98 passes as opposed to the Foxes' 86, indicating that they had weathered the early storm. Most significantly, neither side failed to muster anything substantial down the top end.


#2 Leicester outplayed Chelsea's midfield in the first-half

N
N'Golo Kante was second best against Wilfred Ndidi

Apart from the fantastic chance created by Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic, Chelsea did not have anything to boast in the first-half.

Abraham and Willian were hardly involved, with most of their work coming in the form on shielding the ball whilst facing their own goal. In fact, the centre-forward did not manage a single touch in the Leicester penalty box throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Chelsea did make errors when Gilmour lost possession and when Rudiger let Jonny Evans run beyond him to have an open header, but it was more of a collective failure.

Mason Mount was never allowed to run into free spaces, while young Gilmour had a learning lesson to note against a team playing at high tempo.

The most competitive battle, however, was between Wilfred Ndidi and N'Golo Kante. The latter worked his socks off, but never managed to gain advantage over his counterpart in 50-50 situations.


#3 Lampard's proactive changes do the trick for Chelsea

Ross Barkley scored his third FA Cup goal of the season
Ross Barkley scored his third FA Cup goal of the season

Frank Lampard, in his brief time at Chelsea, has shown that he is not afraid to make quick changes to configuration, dynamics and personnel.

He drafted in Ross Barkley, club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovacic at half-time, and each of them sparked a difference for the visitors since coming on.

Kovacic injected pace to interceptions and the pressing, while Barkley continuously marched down the right flank beyond Chilwell. It was a perfectly executed plan, with Willian drawing the Foxes' full-backs to him, Azpilicueta overlapping and Barkley running down that channel.

In what was a similar pattern of play, Azpilicueta and Willian exchanged passes for the latter to find himself with space to cross. The goalscorer ran across his marker with aplomb, eventually taking his chance extremely well.


#4 Chelsea took control on Leicester in the second half

Frank Lampard
Frank Lampard's second-half tactics were spot on

Leicester City's rampant start to the game was completely shut out in the second-half, with Chelsea bossing possession as well as controlling proceedings.

They stayed compact, allowed Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu to spray passes but did not leave any space in between the midfield. Willy Caballero, through the course of the second-half, was undisturbed.

Chelsea were quick to counter, shift from end to end and pick final passes. They should have netted another goal on the cusp of injury time when Barkley broke away with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro and Abraham in support, but couldn't make anything out of it.

Leicester on the contrary, had many chances to whip crosses into the box, but the likes of Ben Chilwell and Ayoze Perez struggled to find the right man.

Having said that, credit goes to Azpilicueta for organising the backline, and to the Chelsea centre-halves for thwarting all crosses.


#5 Barkley is one of Chelsea's most improved players

Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley's finish was impeccable

When Chelsea knew they had a host of midfielders returning from injury, Ross Barkley's position in the pecking order was surely uncertain.

There's a lot of competition in that section of the pitch within Chelsea's ranks. However, Barkley has exhibited his ever-so-willing attitude to run beyond players, boss the area outside the 18-yard box and grab his chances with both hands.

He scored an absolute stunning solo goal to send Liverpool packing in the previous round. His display against Manchester City was nothing short of phenomenal either.

Today, he unsettled the Leicester defence with his runs off the ball and counter-attacking ability. Not to mention, that one-time sliding finish to the far post was spectacular.


Also read: EPL manager Frank Lampard offers update on Chelsea's Kai Havertz pursuit

Published 28 Jun 2020, 23:21 IST
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