Adding the literal injury to the insult that was last Sunday’s 2-2 draw at the Bridge against Tottenham was N’Golo Kanté’s hamstring, which remains a serious concern that is likely to rule him out for weeks, if not months. While we still don’t have an official prognosis (and probably won’t because it’s not a thing in pro football for whatever reason), we probably won’t see Kanté back until October at the earliest, after the international break.
And joining him on the sidelines and missing our trip to Leeds this weekend are Armando Broja, Mateo Kovačic, and possibly Christian Pulisic as well, who have been dealing with various concerns of their own as confirmed by Thomas Tuchel in Friday’s pre-match press conference.
“[Kanté injury is] quite serious. We’re talking about weeks. So not good news. We are disappointed and sad because N’Golo was super important and was super fit. He will be out for several weeks.
“Armando will be out for days and cannot come with us to Leeds. Mateo Kovačić as well, he’s still out with knee problems. Christian Pulisic had Achilles problems but he trained today. So let’s see.”
That leaves the squad a bit short-handed, though thankfully we’re still in the early stages of the season, with matches only on the weekends. But soon, two games per week will once again be the norm, and more intense than ever thanks to the winter World Cup, and that will require more depth and more quality depth if we want to compete on all fronts.
And that is something clearly on our mind in the final two weeks of the transfer window as well, both in terms of potential signings and possible (or not possible) departures.
“We will not encourage our players to go out at the moment. We had now two training sessions [this week] with 18 players and in a schedule where we play once a week, it is not a problem. But if I look [at] the schedule that is coming [then] we will need a lot of players and quality players to be competitive. At the moment, as I said, we have what we have. We know what we’re looking for. From there we go and only from there we can think about letting players go.”
“[...] I believe we can compete with this group. [But] to be very honest it is one thing to compete once a week and another 60 times in a year and three times a week. For this you need a strong group. It’s simply like this. You need players who challenge for their place, their minutes and push each other to their highest level. It does not come down to only tactics, team spirit but also the challenge and quality of players within the team and depth within the squad. That has not changed.
“We are very happy about the performance [against Spurs] but we are still active in the market and know what can be possible. If not, we will make the very best out of it. If we are looking, we are looking for high quality and personality that suits our group and club.”
As far as tomorrow, the operative word is consistency. Our opening day victory at Goodison was important though unimpressive. The draw against Spurs was frustrating, but we played much better.
We must build on the positives and keep the levels high consistently — that’s what separates good teams and great teams.
“I’m very happy, very confident after last week’s performance because I saw a good team, a very good team performance, an excellent match. [...] I was impressed with how we played. Not surprised. Impressed. [It] was impressive to see us perform like his over 95 minutes. In the data, the review of the match it was also important for me to see we can reach this level that early. Now we set the bar high. It is one thing to perform in one match, in a derby and very emotional match.
“Now to repeat it on a high level and these are the next steps with the guys who played and did not play, to keep the level as high as possible. The process is not finished. Let’s see where we are now and on Sunday. Not everything is finished because we had this kind of performance but it was very good to see. It gave all of us, me included, a lot of confidence on what we do and who we are. It made it much clearer to us.”
“[...] I expect a high-intensity game, a high-pressing team from Leeds and a very emotional stadium. We had a fantastic game last season at Elland Road and scored very early, very dominant and very focused and effective in front of goal.
[We] have to be well aware and also to manage our expectations [...] You cannot play without mistakes against these teams. You accept it before the match and make the best out of it, find the spaces. [We] prepare for now in training and hope to be on our top level and to find the level we had last week.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
Clear eyes, full hearts, etc.