N’Golo Kanté was seemingly indestructible over his first four years at the Premier League, rarely missing matches due to fitness issues during his tenure at Leicester City and Chelsea. But since the end of last season, when he suffered a hamstring injury, his record has changed for the worse.
The latest problem for Kanté occurred on Monday during our match against Manchester United, as he was forced to leave the pitch after just 11 minutes. It turns out that he suffered a muscle issue that will keep him out of contention for (hopefully only) three weeks — Lampard confirming earlier reports from French newspaper L’Equipe.
“N’Golo is not fit, muscle injury. Similar to Arsenal. Hopefully three weeks [out].”
Another troublesome fitness issues is that of Christian Pulisic’s. Captain American has not been involved since early January, and there is no time table for his return because of how “difficult” his injury is.
“Pulisic not fit, no exact date. A difficult injury.”
While those tidbits do not sound too promising for us, there are still some good news in the injury front. Most notably, Ruben Loftus-Cheek is nearing full fitness, and he will be in the squad for tomorrow’s game against Tottenham.
“Ruben is in the squad. Not fit to start, but in the squad.”
And both Andreas Christensen and Tammy Abraham are also fit for the match. It is unclear whether they will be starting the game, but it is good to have them available nevertheless.
“Andreas went to get a mask and has trained with it. Available for selection.
“Tammy has trained the last two days. Probably 70%. He is in the squad.”
Injury problems sure seem to be more prominent and prevalent this season, even more so than last season under Sarri, greatly affecting Chelsea’s performances, and position in the Premier League table.
But while those things have caused some growing unrest among the fanbase, Lampard believes that the fans still understand how this is a “transitional year” for the team, and how all these injuries make it very difficult for him and the squad.
“This season is a transitional year, and fans appreciate that.
“Not many teams have had our injuries. Kanté has played 50% of the games. The fans respect that and they see what we try to do. They will be there to support us.
“It is tight at the moment and we need the fans behind us. The players will give everything.”
But even with those things in mind, Frank should feel a bit of heat coming from the team’s struggles to be a force at home, and the bad results that have come from it. But he was a player that thrived on pressure, and he aims to be a coach who does things the same way.
“I always feel [pressure], because this is top sport. I thrive on it.
“I have enjoyed this week. It was disappointing to lose on Monday [against United], but this is the challenge for us.
“Everyone probably wrote us off for top four. It is a process and the pressure is always there.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
Although initial expectations might have not anticipated Chelsea fighting for the top four, this does not mean we should be happy to be over-performing, or, indeed, struggling to stay up there. Instead, we need to continue to put on the work to hold onto the spot, not counting just on luck — which has often been on our side throughout the season — to do the task at hand.
Otherwise, the pressure on Frank will turn from a motivator into a real problem.