N’Golo Kante

Getty Images

Sarri: Kante given a 50/50 chance to play in UEL final

Leave a comment

It will be a game time decision to see whether N'Golo Kante plays in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday evening in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Speaking to the assembled media at the Olympic Stadium, the site of the final vs. London rivals Arsenal, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stated that after suffering a knee injury in training Kante has a 50% chance of playing in the final.

After losing both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to long-term, season-ending injuries in recent weeks, it’s another blow for the Blues to lose Kante, the man who was key to back to back Premier League titles, first with Leicester City and next with Chelsea. While Kante has been playing a different role this season, as a right central midfielder in Sarri’s 4-3-3, he’s still a World Cup winner and it would be a blow to any team to have to replace him.

Chelsea must hope that either Kante is somehow fit enough to start the match, or even if he’s only able to go 30 minutes, that he comes on and helps secure a victory, holding onto a lead. However, there’s also a strong likelihood that he won’t be available at all, though he could be in the 18 as a decoy.

Chelsea’s Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images
Leave a comment

N'Golo Kante is set to miss Chelsea’s Europa League final showdown with Arsenal on Wednesday after suffering a knee injury during a training session this weekend.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Real Madrid remain $38 million apart on Eden Hazard deal ]

Kante missed Chelsea’s two most recent fixtures — their Premier League finale and the second leg of the UEL semifinals — due to a hamstring injury suffered on May 5, but was on course to be fit and available from the start when the London giants meet in Baku, Azerbaijan. Now, though, the Frenchman’s latest injury has all but ruled him out with one final piece of silverware on the line.

According to a report from the Guardian, the injury occurred when the 2018 World Cup winner made a challenge to win the ball during Saturday’s training session. He left the field in “clear discomfort” and will undergo the requisite examinations to determine the severity of the injury.

[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]

In the unfortunate event that Kante’s injury turns out to be serious and keeps him out of action into the start of next season, the Blues would find themselves in a world of trouble. The club’s season-long transfer ban would prevent them from signing even a single replacement for one of the Premier League’s most influential figures.

Antonio Rudiger (knee), Callum Hudson-Odoi (achilles) and Ruben Loftus-Cheek (achilles) will also miss out on Wednesday’s final due to long-term injuries.

Chelsea’s Sarri salutes Cahill, takes blame for Kante injury

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maurizio Sarri is blaming himself after N'Golo Kante limped out of Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat of Watford, a win which combined with other results to ensure the Blues will complete in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Kante, 28, has played over 4,000 minutes for the Blues this season, and Sarri said the French midfielder should have been rested after going 90 minutes at Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 3-0 Watford ]

“The problem is with his hamstring,” But I think I made a mistake, because probably today he had to rest. Sometimes it’s very difficult to put on the bench a player so important, like Hazard, like Kante, but you have to do it, otherwise you risk, and I have to say I made a mistake.”

Sarri also saluted Gary Cahill, who played his final home match for the Blues following 7-plus years and 289 appearances for Chelsea. The 33-year-old joined from Bolton in January 2012.

“Cahill during the season was really very professional. He played only seven matches but he was really very important in the training ground, in the dressing room, and today was the last match for him in Chelsea and I thought it was important for him to [be] on the pitch. It was very important for the fans and for him. Here, Gary won everything and so he had to say goodbye to the stadium, to the fans, to the club.”

Kante’s absence for the Europa League second leg could be huge. Chelsea is locked in a 1-1 battle with Eintracht after 90 minutes in Germany.

Higuain, Hazard too much for Huddersfield (video)

Leave a comment
  • Higuain scores his 1st two Chelsea goals
  • Hazard also scores twice
  • Luiz adds deflected marker

Whatever Maurizio Sarri said after Chelsea’s beatdown by Bournemouth, it was the tonic.

Gonzalo Higuain and Eden Hazard both bagged braces as Chelsea hammered Huddersfield Town 5-0 on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea is likely to stay the weekend in fourth with 50 points (unless Arsenal beats Man City by five or more goals on Sunday).

Huddersfield Town is 12 points off safety.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams tempted the goal early, with Ross Barkley just missing his target with a spinning effort and Huddersfield’s Aaron Mooy snapping a shot wide himself.

Higuain put Chelsea ahead from a terrific pass from N'Golo Kante, and the finish was very much as advertised, with touch and power to the short side of Jonas Lossl.

Hazard then took advantage of a chance from the spot produced by a tripping Cesar Azpilicueta and his mark Elias Kachunga. He finished it, then was upset not to win another chance himself in stoppage time.

Town was very unfortunate in the 55th minute, when Andreas Christensen stepped on Kachunga in the box but was not whistled for a penalty.

Hazard turned his mark inside out in the 64th minute, but no one was at the back post for his dangerous cross through the six.

So he did it himself; Hazard ran onto an incisive Barkley pass and broke Lossl’s ankles before slotting inside the near post.

Kante then set up Higuain again, a deflected strike which looked pretty after zipping into the upper 90.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Chelsea advance to League Cup final past Tottenham on penalty kicks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maurizio Sarri‘s team had the perfect response at home after a rough defeat last weekend to Arsenal.

Chelsea overcame Tottenham, 4-2 on penalty kicks in the League Cup semifinal after the tie was locked at 2-2 on aggregate after 180 minutes of action. Eric Dier skied one penalty, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved one from Spurs winger Lucas Moura, and David Luiz put the finishing touches to send Chelsea to the League Cup final on February 24 at Wembley Stadium in London. Awaiting Chelsea in the final is Manchester City, who recorded an impressive 10-0 aggregate victory over Burton Albion in the other semifinal.

[READ: Premier League Power Rankings]

Chelsea got off to a quick start on home ground and took the game to Mauricio Pochettino‘s banged up Spurs. In the 27th minute, off a corner kick, Chelsea finally struck gold. A corner kick from Eden Hazard was cleared to the top of the box, where N'Golo Kante rifled a shot home that went through three (3!) pairs of legs before slipping past Paulo Gazzaniga and in for a goal.

Hazard followed that up with a side-footed finish of his own, giving Chelsea the 2-1 lead on aggregate just 40 minutes into the game.

But in the second half, Fernando Llorente connected with a flying header into the box to tie the score on aggregate. Chelsea came close on a few more occasions in the second half, but the score was deadlocked at two each.

The defeat is insult to go with the injury, as two players limped off injured during the match, Ben Davies and Moussa Sissoko, leaving Tottenham with even fewer players available for the next stage of the season. Mauricio Pochettino’s silver lining, if there is any, is now he can focus on the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League, but he’ll rue losing another chance to get an elusive piece of silverware.