Rodgers urges Leicester to dig deep and secure top-four finish against Chelsea
Brendan Rodgers has urged his Leicester players to seize their opportunity and secure Champions League qualification when they face Chelsea in a rematch of their FA Cup final triumph on Tuesday.
Victory at Stamford Bridge would be enough to make certain of a top-four finish after beating Thomas Tuchel’s side at Wembley on Saturday, with Rodgers admitting that Liverpool’s win over West Brom on Sunday courtesy of a last-minute goal from goalkeeper Alisson had only raised the stakes. But despite the quick turnaround following their FA Cup heroics, Leicester’s manager insisted that his team is ready to dig deep.
“Everything’s still in our hands,” said Rodgers. “The players have been absolutely brilliant up until this point. We’ve got European football, we’ve got two games now to arrive into the top four.”
He added: “It’s an amazing feeling when you can give something to people that they’ve never had before. Just the sense of achievement for everyone has been absolutely brilliant. We’ve enjoyed the moment but it’s a quick turnaround now and there’s work to be done.”
Leicester are in third place, two points ahead of Chelsea with two games remaining, but Liverpool’s dramatic late victory means last year’s champions are just a further point back.
“It’s obviously an amazing header by Alisson to score the goal,” said Rodgers. “But we focus on ourselves and we’ve got a great opportunity to qualify. With two games to go, we aim to take it.”
Saturday’s final was a tight game decided by Youri Tielemans’s stunning goal, and Rodgers expects a similar affair on Tuesday. He said: “I think it will be tactically the same. Two teams, super-organised, it’s going to be a tight game. That was the beauty of it. Maybe neutrals are looking for 5-4 for an FA Cup final but two teams pressing, organised, not so many chances in the game, and then eventually a moment of quality from Youri and a moment of quality from Kasper [Schmeichel] allows us to win the Cup.
“If it’s the same tomorrow night, then I’ll be really pleased. They’re in the Champions League final for a reason because they’ve got an incredible squad of players. We know we’ll have to work really, really hard, be equally as aggressive and see if we can make our opportunities count.”
Rodgers was tight-lipped on the possibility of a new contract for Tielemans following his starring role, saying: “There’s no latest. He’s obviously contracted to the club, he’s clearly a player that I love working with, and we’ll see what the summer brings with that.”