Maurizio Sarri provided an injury update on N’Golo Kante, reflected on a season of working in the right direction and warned against the threats of Eintracht Frankfurt as he looked ahead to our Europa League semi-final second leg against the Germans at Stamford Bridge on Thursday evening.
The boss reported that Kante would miss the Frankfurt game and our final domestic fixture of the season away at Leicester City, the midfielder’s former club, but indicated he could be back for the European final if the Blues make it to Baku. Kante limped off early on in our weekend win over Watford.
‘He had a problem with his hamstring,’ reported Sarri at his pre-match press conference. ‘It was not very serious but he needs to rest for a couple of weeks. We can try to recover him for the final if we make it.’
Following a 1-1 draw in Germany, Sarri was asked whether his side were semi-final favourites given the away goal scored by Pedro.
‘It’s not easy because we have to play a dangerous team, as we saw in the first leg,. They are dynamic, aggressive and dangerous in the offensive phase, especially when they find space in counter-attacks, so it’s a dangerous match.
‘In a semi-final, you always have to play against a strong team with strong players so it’s difficult to say we are favourites. They have two good strikers in [Luka] Jovic and [Ante] Rebic so we have to be careful.'
Sarri then claimed the players were fully focused on claiming some silverware and closing the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League next season.
‘We’ve reached the club’s target so we’re very happy with that. Now we have to play in another competition so our next target is to reach the final and then to win the final because our feeling is we deserve a trophy. It’s an important match and we have to play to win.
‘We are 24 points away [from Man City] at the moment so it’s very difficult to cover this gap. We need to work and probably we need something from the market but it’s not easy because the level of the top two is very high.'
With the end of the season only a few weeks away, the manager was also asked about the club’s plans for the summer and next season.
‘We have spoken about pre-season but we don’t talk about the market because we don’t know if we will be able to buy players yet. The main target is not to win trophies but to improve players and we have done that with Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and even older players like Ross Barkley this season.
‘We’ve started our work – we had a lot of problems but in the end the work is going in the right direction.