Chelsea handed injury boost to key player ahead of FA Cup final against Liverpool
Chelsea have been handed an injury boost ahead of the FA Cup final against Liverpool.
The Reds take on Chelsea in the final of the prestigious cup competition at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Liverpool saw off Manchester City in their semi-final, while Chelsea beat Crystal Palace.
Jurgen Klopp’s side go into the game on the back of a rather hectic 2-1 win over Aston Villa. That Premier League victory came at the cost of midfielder Fabinho, who has picked up a hamstring injury.
The Brazilian has already been ruled out for the FA Cup final, and is facing a race against time to be fit for the Champions League final at the end of the month. For Chelsea, though, they have been handed a welcome boost on the injury front.
Chelsea are also sweating over the fitness of Mateo Kovacic for the final against Liverpool. The midfielder was forced off with an ankle injury during the win over Leeds United after a red card challenge from Dan James, and Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel said he did not expect Kovacic to recover in time to face Liverpool.
Liverpool have yet another cup final to contest this weekend. The Reds are scheduled to face Chelsea on Saturday afternoon to determine the winners of this year's FA Cup, although it remains to be seen as to whether Romelu Lukaku will start.
The west London outfit were convinced they needed an elite striker in the transfer market last summer. Thomas Tuchel had just delivered a Champions League title to Stamford Bridge, yet a no.9 who could act as a focal point was deemed as the missing piece of the puzzle.
Chelsea consequently sanctioned a £97m deal for Lukaku, who proceeded to join from Inter Milan. He initially experienced a strong start but gradually, his lack of compatibility with the system around him has become clear to see.
The German coach's opinion that he was in need of a fixed striker was understandable at the time. It was a familiar belief held by many on Merseyside throughout the early stages of Jurgen Klopp's tenure at Anfield.
The Reds boss empowered his offensive trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah upon his arrival in England. As many pundits suggested that Liverpool needed a proper striker, Klopp persisted with his versatile forwards and won the Premier League and Champions League before too long.
He's now been in charge for longer than any of his managerial peers in England's top-flight, yet he's persistently refrained from buying a striker throughout his time at the club, instead showcasing a preference for wide forwards who are fast, direct, industrious and adaptable.
In Firmino, Mane, Salah, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, Klopp has a selection of truly dangerous attackers, each of whom can essentially perform anywhere across his front line. Strikers, by contrast, tend to demand one fixed position up top.
Establishing the same degree of control as Liverpool and Manchester City has prove to be difficult for Chelsea with Lukaku, as he's essentially deployed purely to finish moves and little else. When it comes to constructing chances to score, he's almost been a bystander of sorts.
Liverpool are getting ready to face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but their opponents will apparently have an extra incentive.
The Reds face Chelsea in the final of the prestigious cup competition at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It is the second of three finals that Liverpool will have played this season, following the Carabao Cup final and the Champions League final, which takes place later this month.
Jurgen Klopp’s side saw off Manchester City in their semi-final to reach their first final since 2012. For Chelsea, they are in their third consecutive FA Cup final and beat Crystal Palace to set up the showpiece match with Liverpool.
Much of the build-up going into the game has been dominated by talk of Liverpool achieving an unprecedented quadruple. While the Reds trail Man City in the Premier League by three points with just two matches left, scooping all four major trophies this term is still a possibility.
The FA Cup final is all set up with Liverpool aiming to complete half of their quadruple quest when they face Chelsea at Wembley for the second time this season.
The Reds overcame the Blues in the Carabao Cup final earlier this year to claim their first trophy of the 2021/22 campaign. Goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga missed the decisive penalty in the shootout following an entertaining yet goalless draw.
Jurgen Klopp will know the Premier League title is slipping through his grasp but he will be determined for his men to make the most of their remaining cup finals: this one and the Champions League showpiece game.
N'Golo Kante has returned to Chelsea training ahead of the Blues FA Cup final clash against Liverpool at the weekend. The Frenchman was not in Thomas Tuchel's squad for the win over Leeds on Wednesday after also missing clashes against Wolves and Everton.
Kante picked up his injury against Manchester United at Old Trafford and was substituted as a result, and Tuchel noted ahead of the trip to Elland Road that the 31-year-old was in contention to return, along with Jorginho. The Italian made it into the starting XI, that night, but Kante's belated return will be seen as soon after Mateo Kovacic was forced off injured after a rash challenge from Dan James.
The Croatian midfielder is in a race to be fit for the match against Jurgen Klopp's side but could not continue playing and saw his left ankle wrapped up and treated with ice after being substituted. Speaking following the match against Leeds, Tuchel was not confident that the 28-year-old would be able to return in time.
The German coach said: "I tell you, not as a coach, not as an expert, but I think it's very unlikely we see him [in the cup final]. Once Mateo goes out, he never goes out. He played in the semi-final of the FA Cup with the same injury and played another 15 minutes, which is almost impossible. #kfjrknjkn #fruihglwk