Europa League Final: N'Golo Kante set to miss the final with knee injury
What's the story?
With the UEFA Europa League final coming up in a couple of days, Maurizio Sarri has suffered a huge blow in the quest for his first trophy with Chelsea. According to reports, N'Golo Kante has suffered a knee injury in training, and it is unlikely that he will recover in time for the final showdown against city rivals Arsenal in Baku.
In case you didn't know...
Chelsea face off against arch-rivals Arsenal in the Europa League final on Wednesday. The Gunners beat Napoli (3-0 aggregate) in the quarter-finals, and Copa del Rey winners Valencia (7-3 aggregate), on their path to the final in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Chelsea, on the other hand, beat Slavia Praha (5-3 aggregate) in the quarter-finals, and edged past Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties (2-2 aggregate) in the semi-finals, to reach the final.
N'Golo Kante has not being playing in his natural deep-lying defensive midfield position, with Sarri preferring fellow Italian Jorginho to do the job. Kante has played a more advanced, box-to-box role on the right side of Sarri's midfield, chipping in with 5 goals and 4 assists over the course of the season. He missed the last two games of the Premier League run-in with a hamstring injury.
Chelsea are already without the services of Antonio Rudiger (Knee), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Achilles) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (Achilles) for the final.
The heart of the matter
It has been reported that Kante twisted his knee while making a challenge in training on Saturday. It is believed that the Blues' medical staff assessed the Frenchman, and feel that he won't be able to recover in time for the star-studded final.
Kante's absence will definitely leave a huge void in the midfield, as the World Cup winner is vital in providing the required balance in the middle of the park. He allows the generally more creative left midfielder (Mateo Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley) to express himself by providing adequate defensive cover.
With Loftus-Cheek also out with injury, it is expected that Sarri will go with the midfield trio of Jorginho, Kovacic and Barkley, and it will be interesting to see how Europa League specialist Unai Emery fields his men against this attack-oriented Chelsea team.
The final will be broadcasted on Thursday, 30th May at 12:30 AM IST. With the Gunners looking to achieve Champions League qualification and the Blues looking to bring home European glory, it promises to be a feisty contest no football fan should miss!