Leicester City may have made history with their emotional first FA Cup triumph, but Tuesday’s Premier League rematch with Chelsea is just as important as both sides are chasing a top four.
- Chelsea and Leicester will meet on Tuesday in a game crucial to their hopes for the top four
- A defeat for the Foxes could mean the end of their Champions League dreams
- If Liverpool win the remaining games, Tuesday’s game will in fact be a play-off
- Chelsea could still qualify by winning the trophy if they miss the top four
Seeing Chelsea and Leicester play in a captivating FA Cup final, it seemed ridiculous to think that only a league game between the two could be more important than winning a major trophy.
Leicester wrote history for the second time in five years, won the cup for the first time in their 137th anniversary, and produced a moment that their fans, staff and owners will cherish for the rest of their lives.
Even Jamie Vardy looked close to tears full-time as he wrote another chapter of his remarkable story. After Vardy was the only player to play in every round of the FA Cup, from the preliminary round to the final, Vardy found the fairytale ending by lifting the trophy.
Youri Tielemans scored the only goal of the game when Leicester defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup final
Wes Morgan (left) and Kasper Schmeichel (right) lift FA Cup after Foxes win at Wembley
Yet the nature of modern football is such that both sides will look anxiously at Tuesday’s Premier League game at Stamford Bridge as they try to secure a Champions League spot for next season.
If Liverpool win all of their remaining league games, that encounter could be an effective play-off for a place in the European elite next season.
Chelsea will have another chance to secure their spot by winning this year’s final against Manchester City, but for Leicester a defeat will likely mean missing the top four for the second consecutive season.
While supporters will always remember Finals more than league games, those who have the wallet think differently. The Champions League is much more lucrative than the Europa League. In addition, every player wants to test themselves in Europe’s most important club competition, and every top manager wants to experience those opportunities. It is therefore considered a disappointing season for a top club to win the FA Cup but finish outside the top four.
The Foxes will want to end their brilliant season by finishing in the Champions League places
So instead of awarding a Champions League seat to the fourth best team in the league, why not give it to the winners of the domestic cup? This move would immediately restore FA Cup prestige and prompt Premier League teams to think about including weakened teams in the earlier rounds of the competition.
Winning the FA Cup requires guts, skill and durability, even if it lacks the brilliance of yesteryear. While finishing fourth in the Premier League is a fine achievement, the team that does it can often end miles behind the winners. Last season, Chelsea was 33 points behind champions Liverpool in fourth place. This season, Manchester City – which has already secured the title – has a 19-point lead over Thomas Tuchel’s side, who once again occupy the last Champions League spot.
What a day this was for Leicester. What a moment in their history, especially less than three years after the death of their owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. It deserves to be rewarded with a place among the very best that Europe has to offer.