Chelsea were just starting to gather steam before the forced break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We began March with back-to-back victories over Merseyside, beating Liverpool in the FA Cup quarterfinals, 2-0, and thrashing Everton in the league, 4-0.
However, our overall form this season has not been ideal. We have gone through several ups and downs, with many of our defeats coming to teams we were expected to beat, such as Bournemouth and Southampton.
In large part that’s been a result of having a young squad with many players who are not yet as experienced nor consistent as their older counterparts. But it’s also thanks in great part to the countless injuries, which have consistently deprived us of key players, including Antonio Rüdiger, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek — the list could go on and on — and, perhaps most crucially, N’Golo Kanté.
Frank Lampard, who is doing an amazing job in his debut season as manager after winning everything as a player for Chelsea, has certainly felt the effect of these injuries.
“We had four or five of those [injured players] when we finished playing recently.
“N’Golo Kanté is obviously a great example because he’s played four or five incredible seasons in terms of his individual success and he’s been used quite rightly by his managers a lot.
“This season he’s played only about 40% of our games and even then it’s been difficult for him and I’ve really felt for him on an individual level. He’s been a huge miss for us.”
“We obviously need N’Golo Kanté back in our team, one of the best players in the world. I knew that before I became manager of Chelsea and know that now from working with him. I haven’t been able to have him much this year and going forward we, of course, want him fit and raring to go.”
Kanté and fellow midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek would have surely had a big, positive impact, and could’ve helped us avoid some of those disappointing and frustrating results.
But there is little use in imagining alternate timelines. The focus for Frank and the team is to get both midfielders back in their best shape, physically and mentally.
“Looking forward, whenever a restart comes we want to get [Kanté] in the best shape, want to get Ruben Loftus-Cheek in the best shape.
“We’ve had slightly different plans for them but they’ve been scuppered with what we’ve had to do. The players’ health comes first, the mental well-being of the players comes first.”
-Frank Lampard; Source: BT Sport via Daily Mail
There are few, if any silver linings to a pandemic that’s killed nearly a quarter million worldwide and has shut down significant portions of the world’s economy, but in the entirely unimportant world of football, Chelsea should at least be able to return a less injured team whenever we do resume playing.