With a week to go until the Europa League final Maurizio Sarri has reported the latest on N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s injuries, and the boss has also looked ahead to the game against Arsenal in a location he says is unsatisfactory because of how hard it is to reach for Chelsea supporters.
The build-up to Baku is underway in earnest and at Cobham today the media were invited to ask Sarri questions with a further opportunity for them to speak to players after training.
First on the agenda for Sarri was an injury update, with N’Golo Kante having missed the end of the domestic season and Ruben Loftus-Cheek suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in the US.
‘Of course we are trying to recover Kante,’ Sarri stated.
‘He had a part of training yesterday with the group, so we are optimistic he will be able to play the final.
‘[Toni] Rudiger has no chance, Loftus-Cheek and Callum [Hudson-Odoi] are out of course. The only player we can recover is Kante.’
Sarri provided some more detail on Loftus-Cheek’s injury
‘In Boston the pitch was not very good, but with an injury like that there isn’t only one reason, there are probably a lot of reasons. We cannot say it was only the pitch.
‘The injury is very similar to Callum’s injury, not the same but very similar. I don’t know the timing, it’s very difficult to say, four months, five months, it’s difficult. Probably he will be able to have training with the group in five months, then he needs to be able to play at 100 per cent of his possibilities. I don’t know exactly the timing but four months to six months.
‘Loftus-Cheek was able to become a very important player for us, especially in an open match. He is useful in space for us. I am disappointed but it is useless to speak about him now.
‘I am sure he will be able to return stronger than in the past. He will become for sure one of the most midfielders in Europe.’
As well as expressing his disappointment with the situation that has meant Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan is not travelling to Baku, Sarri also sympathised with our supporters
‘The location is a big problem for our fans. It would be better in another location. Probably the situation will be the same for both teams, but for everybody it is better to play with 30,000 fans of Chelsea and 30,000 fans of Arsenal.
‘You do this job for these matches. It’s better for everybody to have the fans with the team.’
Sarri looked forward to the challenge on the pitch
‘Usually against Arsenal it’s an open match. They have two very dangerous strikers, Lacazette and Aubamayang. They are very dangerous as a team in the offensive phase. They are aggressive and able to press well in the opposition half, so it’s not easy to play against them. The coach worked very well, so a difficult match.
‘We got in trouble in January but we were able to react, so now our feeling is we deserve to win. We want a trophy for our group, for the players, for the technical staff, the fans, and the club. If we are able to win the season will become a wonderful season.’
Sarri also spoke about the possibility of Arsenal having more motivation because their Champions League involvement next season rests on the outcome
‘It’s a risk, of course. On the other hand we have to consider the pressure. In this moment we risk having less motivation than our opponent, but probably they have more pressure than us. There is a positive and a negative.
‘We didn’t want to play this final for the Champions League. We wanted the Champions League through the Premier League, and then we wanted to win a trophy. The final is very important for us, and our feeling is we deserve to win a trophy.’