N’Golo Kante

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Chelsea: No exact date for Pulisic return; Kante out

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USMNT superstar Christian Pulisic remains out injured for Chelsea and his manager Frank Lampard has admitted the injury is a ‘difficult one’ to assess.

Slumping Chelsea host in-form Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at Stamford Bridge (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Blues in fourth place but just one point ahead of Spurs.

N’Golo Kante, who hobbled off in the 2-0 defeat to Man United on Monday, is out for three weeks but the most concerning news was about Pulisic as Lampard revealed he can’t give an exact date on when the USMNT star will be back after his adductor injury which saw him last play on Jan. 1. 

“N’Golo is not fit. A muscle injury, the same as the one he came off with Arsenal with. Should be, hopefully, three weeks,” Lampard said. “Christian Pulisic is still not fit. At the moment I can’t give an exact date. Difficult injury, we are working with that. Ruben is in the squad but not fit to start. Andreas Christensen is fit. He went to get a mask for a broken nose.”

Tammy Abraham has trained the last two days at about ’70 percent’ while it is not expected that Callum Hudson-Odoi will be fit. The news on Kante is particularly damaging as he will miss the UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg against Bayern Munich as injures are piling up all over the pitch.

The good news for Chelsea? Ruben Loftus-Cheek will return to the squad this weekend after being out since May 12 when he injured his Achilles in a friendly against the New England Revolution in a friendly.

That is the only decent bit of injury news for Lampard’s young Chelsea squad.

Chelsea are still in fourth but have won just four of their last 14 games in the Premier League and with Spurs just one point behind them and United three points behind them, the chasing pack are closing in. Tottenham have plenty of injuries with Harry Kane and Heung-min Son out injured but Jose Mourinho knows this is a good time to play against his former club Chelsea.

Injuries to Abraham, Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi are tough as scoring goals has become an issue for the Blues in this poor run of form which stretches back to November.

All season long Chelsea have squandered goalscoring chances and even if the Champions League qualification goes down to fifth place due to Man City’s European ban, they may still miss out. They have been unlucky with injuries this season and missing Kante for a pivotal stretch of the season and the stop-start campaigns for Pulisic and Hudson-Odoi have been frustrating for Lampard.

“Whenever I speak to fans, and this season is a transitional year so we can’t please everybody, but what I’m getting is they’re recognising a team that wants to play,” Lampard said.

Injury news and a lack of goals aside, it is easy to forget this is a very young Chelsea side who have so far exceeded expectations.

A strong finish in the final 12 games of the season, starting with a win against bitter rivals Spurs, is exactly what the doctor ordered for Lampard and Co.

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

Chelsea’s Lampard: VAR didn’t do its job

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It’s no surprise, but Frank Lampard agrees with the majority of people who watched Monday’s match between Chelsea and Manchester United.

Harry Maguire should’ve been sent off for a kick to the groin of Michy Batshuayi, and VAR also missed the shove before the shove on Brandon Williams that negated a Chelsea equalizer in a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.

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Here’s what Lampard had to say about both incidents, via Football.London:

“Decisions are crucial. Maguire should get a red. I think that is what VAR was brought in for. I think the Zouma one should have stood: Azpilicueta was shoved.

“It is just the wrong decision. That is what it was brought in for. It is very confusing. I think everyone I have spoken to has said it.”

Lampard acknowledged that Olivier Giroud was just offside on his goal, but that’s about all the manager was willing to give the officials on the day.

The Chelsea manager also said that N’Golo Kante has an adductor injury and that “it doesn’t look good,” while injured Christian Pulisic will not be ready for a massive top four tilt this weekend versus Tottenham Hotspur.

Here’s Lampard’s interview that aired on NBCSN:

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante sues former agent for fraud

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PARIS — The Paris prosecutor’s office says France midfielder N’Golo Kante has filed a lawsuit against his former image agent, citing fraud and breach of trust.

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The complaint filed this week by the Chelsea midfielder against Nouari Khiari also includes “attempted fraud” and “illegal exercise of the profession of sports agent.”

According to L’Equipe newspaper, which first reported the story, Kante was introduced to Khiari by friends and family members. The pair started their working relationship in July 2016 but tensions quickly arose and Kante decided to put an end to their partnership a year later, accepting to pay 150,000 euros for Khiari to severe their professional ties.

According to the sports daily, Kante claims that his former associate kept all the copies of their deal and later pressured him to get more money.

Another cause for their deteriorated relationship was Khiari’s attempts to influence Kante’s career choices. L’Equipe said the agent tried to convince Kante to move away from Chelsea during the 2018 summer to join Real Madrid.

“I was too kind,” Kante told L’Equipe. “I wanted to believe in this person’s honesty and sincerity. But he was only driven by the financial aspects.”

LIVE, UCL: Liverpool 1-1 Napoli after Chelsea draws Valencia

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Both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur secured a berth in the Champions League knockout stage yesterday, and now the Premier League looks to Chelsea and Liverpool to do the same.

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Chelsea has an early 12:55 p.m. ET kick as they head to Spain, an absolutely vital match as Chelsea sits level on seven points with both today’s opponent Valencia and group leaders Ajax. While they cannot officially secure advancement today, victory at Mestalla Stadium would be a massive step towards doing so, leaving them at the brink of qualification.

Christian Pulisic starts again for the Blues with N’Golo Kante and Tammy Abraham also in the lineup as Frank Lampard looks to secure a significant advantage over a clogged Group H crowd.

Liverpool is home against Napoli where victory would indeed clinch a spot in the knockout stage. A draw would also do the trick should Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg fail to win on the road in Belgium. The Reds suffered a 2-0 loss in Italy back in mid-September and will look for revenge against a Carlo Ancelotti side in slight turmoil, having failed to win any of its last six matches across all competition.

Elsewhere, Barcelona can also clinch a knockout round spot with victory at the Nou Camp against Borussia Dortmund. Marco Reus is back from injury for Dortmund, but Paco Alcacer is not with the squad to face his former club after suffering a gash to his knee. These two teams played to a 0-0 draw back in mid-September but the German side will know that a draw here could leave them vulnerable in Group F with Inter hot on their trail with a visit to Slavia Prague.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Liverpool v. Napoli
Racing Genk v. Red Bull Salzburg

Group F
Barcelona v. Borussia Dortmund
Slavia Prague v. Inter Milan

Group G
Zenit St. Petersburg v. Olympique Lyonnais (12:55 p.m. ET)
RB Leipzig v. Benfica

Group H
Valencia v. Chelsea (12:55 p.m. ET)
Lille v. Ajax