Chelsea could be without N’Golo Kante for their Premier League match with Norwich City in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
Speaking ahead of the trip to Carrow Road, Frank Lampard has revealed the France World Cup winner has a problem with his ankle and is a doubt for the away fixture.
“N’Golo Kante has got an injury he has carried all week,” he said – as quoted by the club’s official website.
“We are going to assess that over the next 24 hours to see if he’s fit. It’s an ankle sprain.”
Lampard also admitted the game had come too early for Antonio Rudiger as well, despite the Germany international stepping up his comeback with an appearance for the club’s Premier League 2 side.
“Rudiger is not fit yet, hopefully not next week,’ he added.
“Those are the only changes from where we were last week. Pedro missed open training on Tuesday as he has contributed a lot physically during a busy week with three games, and had a couple of small aches. It was a precaution taking him out for a couple of days but he has trained the last two days.”
Chelsea will surely be hoping that Kante is available for the clash against Norwich on Saturday as he has proven to be a hugely crucial member of the side over the last couple of seasons at Stamford Bridge.
According to stats collected by WhoScored, the 28-year-old managed to record an average of 2.1 tackles per match in his 36 Premier League appearances last season, as well as 1.2 interceptions. Having been played out of position for much of the year by Maurizio Sarri, something which many including Emmanuel Petit have spoken about, he was also rather productive when moving the ball forward as well.
Kante managed 1.3 key passes every 90 mins whilst he also had a success rate of 87.9% throughout his campaign.
The World Cup winner has started this season in good touch as well, despite having had to bide his time because of the injury knocks he has recently had. In his two top-flight matches, he has managed to average 2.5 tackles, 0.5 interceptions and 1.5 clearances in 107 minutes.
Compare those figures to Jorginho’s for the current campaign of 1.5 tackles and two interceptions in his 144 minutes so far, it is easy to understand the importance of the £30m 2016 signing’s performances have in the Chelsea side.
It is not just those figures that have highlighted his significance to Lampard this season though, as the manager praised his contribution following their defeat to Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out for the Super Cup.
As quoted by The London Evening Standard, the Chelsea boss said: “Kante is an amazing player, amazing character. He’s a machine on the football field. He hasn’t trained much, had a swollen ankle two days ago, but he was desperate to play and you saw what he gave to the team today. He will be hugely important. I am delighted to work with him.”
Rudiger’s absence will have been frustrating – he averaged one tackle, one interception and 2.9 clearances in his 33 Premier League appearances last season (WhoScored) – however, Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma have been able to put in some good displays in his place.
The Dane has gone on to make two tackles, 1.5 interceptions and 4.5 clearances in his 180 minutes so far, whilst the French centre-back has achieved 0.5 tackles, two interceptions and two clearances in his two matches.
Kante’s potential absence could be a big blow to Chelsea on Saturday because of what he can offer to the team in the midfield area and, as Lampard highlighted, just how important he is to the team.
The Blues will have to be careful as Norwich are coming off the back of an impressive win against Newcastle United last weekend – a game where Teemu Pukki made his name in the Premier League with a well-taken hat-trick – and Christensen, Zouma and Jorginho are going to have to be at their best to keep him and the rest of the host’s side quiet.
But, Lampard will likely feel Chelsea have enough quality to deal with the Canaries and will want to pick up his first three points as the manager of his former club.
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