Leicester, Southampton driven by chance of silverware

LONDON • Leicester famously won the Premier League in 2016, but their trophy cabinet is relatively sparse with just three more League Cups.

The Foxes will reach their first FA Cup final in 52 years if they beat Southampton in the semi-finals at Wembley today and manager Brendan Rodgers is convinced his team will not be overawed by the occasion.

"The magnitude of the game is clear," he said. "You don't need to shine a torch on it any more. We want to arrive in the final but we can only do that by performing well.

"If you get too nervous, it can immobilise you. I've been made aware of the (club's) history, losing four (FA Cup) finals, that gives me a greater motivation."

With Leicester out of the League Cup and Europa League, and struggling to keep their place in the top four, the FA Cup is the third-placed side's only chance of silverware.

Leicester will also be boosted by the return of Ayoze Perez, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury, after the trio were dropped for the their previous game over a breach of Covid-19 rules.

British media reported Maddison and Choudhury had attended a party at Perez's house, and they all missed the 3-2 defeat by West Ham.

However, Rodgers insisted they had turned the page on their mistake and were determined to produce strong performances on the pitch to restore their reputations.

"The players were bitterly disappointed," he said. "They knew they overstepped the mark...

"They were punished and we have to move on.

"It's a really exciting period. They know they have to focus for the rest of the season."

With their opponents 11 places below them in the league, Leicester are the favourites today, but the Saints will be no pushovers.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted on Friday he prioritised his side's Cup run to the detriment of their top-flight results but, with Southampton within touching distance of their first final since 2003, the sacrifice has been worth it.

They have only one major trophy - the 1976 FA Cup - so reaching the May 15 final would make it "a super successful season definitely", according to the Austrian.

Today's game will have 4,000 fans, with tickets limited to Brent residents and key front-line workers as part of the British government's pilot test events to define the country's way out of the lockdown.

REUTERS


LEICESTER V SOUTHAMPTON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 18, 2021, with the headline 'Leicester, Southampton driven by chance of silverware'. Subscribe