Chelsea will be without N’Golo Kanté for the third game running when we taken on title-contenders Leicester City tomorrow, with head coach Frank Lampard confirming that our all-important midfielder not named Mason Mount will miss out due to a hamstring injury, which he’s been dealing with since at least the start of the month and the loss against Manchester City.
Yes, that’s right, it’s another hamstring injury that’s proving more significant than initially forecast by eternal injury-optimist Lampard. Shocking, I know.
“Andreas Christensen’s available and N’Golo Kanté unfortunately isn’t, his hamstring isn’t ready.”
While Kanté’s form had dipped alongside the team’s during the month of December, he will be sorely missed against Leicester, especially since Lampard is likely to give Jorginho a start in his stead once again, instead of someone more palatable for the general population, like Billy Gilmour.
That said, Chelsea have struggled to get results against quality opposition this season with or without Kanté. And make no mistake, Leicester City, who fell away last season to finish only fifth, are in good form (7 wins in their last 10 in all competitions) and are just two points behind the league-leaders. In such an open competition as this year’s Premier League, the Foxes are well-positioned for another 2015-16 surprise.
“They’re in it, for sure. The way they are playing, getting into that position in the league, it is the same as last season. We managed to get above them at the back end of last season but it is a big ask for us. They are a very good team, very good individuals and a really good coach in Brendan [Rodgers] so we know that they are in the race [which is] very open, especially in comparison to recent years.
Despite its openness, one team not in the title race at the moment are Chelsea, after a terrible run of results over the past month and half knocked us down from the shiny top to the distinctly less shiny middle. And while the table remains more congested than usual, there’s a gap developing between the top-six and the rest, and we’re on the wrong side of that divide.
With seven league games coming up in the five weeks between now and the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 against Atlético Madrid in late February, it’s truly make-or-break time for the Blues.
“It is hard to win games in this league. [Confidence] is part of the picture at the moment but for me, the work ethic and the team really being focused is as important to me as the confidence because the quality of the team is there.
“We know the potential is there and it will be unlocked, it is just making sure that we do all the right things to get it back, wherever it may be. [...] We just need to consider the games in front of us and try to win them to push ourselves steadily up the table.
“We are not in a bad position, we have had a bad short period of form and if we can put wins together this month then the picture will change very quickly as it has done already this year in so many ways.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
A win tomorrow at the King Power would certainly make Lampard’s optimism a more prevalent attitude.