N’Golo Kante and Willian will be available for selection for the Heads Up FA Cup final in a boost to Chelsea’s hopes of ending the campaign with silverware, though Ruben Loftus-Cheek misses out with injury.
The news was delivered by Frank Lampard at his video press conference to preview tomorrow’s Cup final at Wembley, which sees the Blues take on Arsenal for the final domestic trophy of the season.
Kante has not featured since the start of the month when he came off early in our home victory against Watford with a hamstring injury, while Willian was absent for our Champions League qualification-clinching win over Wolves last weekend.
‘N’Golo Kante and Willian are in the squad so we’ll see if they’re fit to be in the starting 11,’ reported the boss.
However, there was less positive news about the fitness of another midfield player.
‘Ruben Loftus-Cheek has a small problem he picked up yesterday so he’s out of the game,’ said Lampard.
While Chelsea beat Manchester United in the semi-final a fortnight ago, the Gunners booked their place in the final with a surprise victory over Manchester City the day before. However, Lampard himself was not too shocked about Arsenal's ability to win such a big game.
‘I wasn’t surprised that they won the game,’ he said. ‘Man City were probably most people’s favourites - they are in pretty much every game they play but I knew with the collective and individual talent Arsenal have that they had the capabilities to win a game like that.
‘It’s a game I’ve paid close attention to but every game is different. They’ve had other results recently and played in different formations so we have to be ready for any eventuality but we also have to know that Arsenal are going to be a very tough match.’
Lampard believes that Mikel Arteta, a Premier League manager with the novelty of being even younger than the Blues boss, has made positive strides in his short spell in charge at the Emirates so far.
‘I think he’s done a really good job since he’s been there,’ he added. ‘I know that feeling of trying to lay down messages, keep trying to drill things home, make relationships and see where you want the club to be taken forward. From the outside, I’ve got big respect for the way he’s done his job.’
Just like last season when the two capital rivals faced off in the Europa League final in Baku, there is not just a trophy at stake for Arsenal, who could secure European football next season with a win in tomorrow’s final, having not done so with their eighth-place finish in the league.
Lampard is unsure whether that will be a help or a hindrance to their preparations as he focuses solely on keeping his players motivated on their objective of lifting silverware.
‘I’m not sure what pressure it adds in terms of whether it becomes a positive or a negative,’ he said. ‘That’s their problem as far as I’m concerned and it’s a good problem for them because they can get into Europe via the game.
‘We must make sure that our mentality, whether we’ve qualified for the Champions League or not last week, is not affected negatively in any way from that. This is a game that means a lot to us. It means everything to us.’