Chelsea may be picking up great results these days, but continue to largely rely on the same 8-10 players, in part due the continuing the injury issues that have been plaguing the team since the end of last seeason.
For our match against Burnley tomorrow, Frank Lampard will be missing five first-team players, including long-term injury victim Ruben Loftus-Cheek. But the biggest absence certainly remains midfielder N’Golo Kanté, who (re)injured himself in international duty two weeks ago, adding to the litany of problems he’s been having since Europa League final.
“N’Golo won’t be ready. He’s training on his own with some physical work because he’s had a few issues. We need to get him right now because he’s been in and out through the season as we all know.”
“There’s no real timeframe on [his return]. I just want him fit. He’s played a lot of football for four years, he’s had a big injury off the back of last season, and maybe he’s suffering from that big injury and the fallout from that. It’s maybe now time to take a small step back to get his fitness up and be confident we won’t have a domino effect of small injuries.”
The carelessness of French national team manager Didier Deschamps did not help the situation, but Chelsea also share in the blame by letting N’Golo return a bit too soon perhaps, and not just one. The blame game only gets us so far however; we must now ensure that Kanté is given proper time to heal after all the years of playing football at high intensity, and almost without any rest.
Another important player who’s barely featured all season — just 45 minutes, in fact — is centre back Antonio Rüdiger. His situation is not as dramatic as Kanté’s fortunately, and he could be back as soon as next week.
“Rüdiger won’t be ready for the weekend, but he’s getting closer. He’s outside training with us. He had a bad injury. He didn’t play since April, played half a game against Wolves, so this is again a fallout from last season’s injury for us. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of it.
“Rudi’s close now, so he should hopefully be involved with us in the next week or two.”
To wrap up the sad state of affairs in the medical department, centre back Andreas Christensen and midfielder Ross Barkley also remain out injured. The latter could be back soon as well, but Christensen’s hamstring injury appears to be lingering.
“Christensen is still out. Ross Barkley is out, not majorly out, just out, so hopefully fit for next week.”
Combined with the quick turnaround from Wednesday, Chelsea will be stretched to the limit at Turf Moor on Saturday. Playing against Burnley is rarely a pleasant occasion, and Sean Dyche’s side are in good form, especially at home, with three wins (and three clean sheets) in four matches.
Lampard is well aware of the problems Burnley can cause, and not just by kicking people. Their attacking duo of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have eight goals between them (four each), for example.
“It’s a really tough place to go. I respect them completely. They have a very strong way of playing that they know. They’re well drilled, they’re very efficient in how many times they get the ball in to the box.
“The two strikers give you big problems, they’re fantastic the way they play together, whether they’re fit or whoever his choices up front are. You have to respect the different strengths of every team, that’s the job. We have had a tight turnaround here, so it’s been huge on recovery and getting the players fit and ready to go again because it will be a physical battle.
“The most important thing going into the game is how much we look at Burnley, what they can do and what we can do to them. I have watched a lot of their games, and they never give an easy game to the opponent. They’re scoring goals. They’re always a difficult game.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Here’s hoping for a seventh consecutive win in all competitions!