Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Chelsea to make late checks on Kante & Havertz for decisive Villa clash

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 May 2021

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Chelsea will make late checks on the fitness of N’Golo Kante and Kai Havertz for their pivotal match against Aston Villa.

The Blues are one point clear of Liverpool and Leicester City going into the final day of the Premier League season on Sunday.

Only two of those teams will be able to secure a top-four finish, but Chelsea’s fate is in their own hands when they travel to Villa.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel confirmed defender Andreas Christensen will return after missing the last three games with a hamstring injury.

Kante left the field in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Leicester with a hamstring problem of his own and is less certain to play.

A test will also be conducted on Havertz, with the upcoming Champions League final on May 29 also a factor Tuchel must weigh up when it comes to playing Kante or Havertz.

“With NG [Kante] it’s going to be very close, but there are some hopes he joins team training on Saturday,” said Tuchel. “If not, he’ll join on Monday. 

“Kai did a test Friday and will be tested in team training [on Saturday].

“Andreas Christensen will be in the squad. He did full training [Thursday and Friday] without any problems. So he will be back.”

Tuchel is aware Chelsea are in an exciting period, having bounced back from losing the FA Cup final by beating Leicester in the league, with two more decisive matches to come.

“It’s exciting and it’s nice if you play for stuff,” said the German. “It keeps you at the edge and brings out the best in you. We felt it at Wembley and on Tuesday. 

“We needed to win to maintain our goals and that set a certain intensity and energy, that’s very special. 

“It’s not always like this for 60 matches a year. When these matches arrive, they are very special and they bring a certain amount of excitement you can’t find anywhere else.”

Chelsea have won their last three Premier League away games against Aston Villa, last winning four in a row at Villa Park between 1995 and 1999.

Tuchel revealed he would keep track of Leicester and Liverpool as they take on Tottenham and Crystal Palace respectively at the same time.

He said: “For a long period of the game we will be in our bubble, but in the end, if we have results that change the amount of risk we need to take – because we’re not leading or not comfortable with our lead – we need to know. 

“We need to be professional. If we need to adapt our risk management in the game, I think it’s normal. We will approach the game like the game against Leicester. It’s in our hands and can decide things with a win.

“So we prepare to win the game but as you know, there can be a lot of twists and turns so we need to be ready for everything on our pitch.

“The top four would be the main target for all of us. Having a busy schedule made it harder. 

“We had so many games and a tight schedule. It was a complicated situation to reach the final, go back to top-four race, then a semi-final in the Champions League.

“There are so many competitions and so many levels in these competitions. So it demanded a lot of different levels of concentration for us. 

“It’s what we worked for and it’s still in our hands. We know how hard it is to play at Aston Villa but we are determined to do it.”

Villa have lost 10 of their last 12 Premier League meetings with Chelsea (W1 D1), though they did get a draw in the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge this season.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost their final league game in just one of the last nine campaigns (W6 D2), going down 3-0 at Newcastle United in 2017-18.

They are unbeaten in each of their eight away league games under Tuchel (W6 D2), conceding just four goals in total and never more than once in a match.

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