Thomas Tuchel previews Spurs v Chelsea
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Thomas Tuchel has provided an update on N’Golo Kante ahead of Chelsea’s London derby against Tottenham on Sunday. Kante’s start to the season has been hampered by injury problems, with the midfielder only sporadically available over the opening month.
The French midfielder has been battling a groin problem, which has seen him miss the last two matches, against Aston Villa and Zenit St Petersburg.
He began the campaign by captaining the side in their Super Cup victory over Villarreal on penalties before missing the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The 30-year-old made a cameo appearance against Arsenal before he was forced off halfway through the 1-1 draw with Liverpool on August 28.
However, having worked on his fitness over the international break and sat out of the last two Chelsea matches, Kante is now available to Tuchel.
“N’Golo is back,” the German manager said in his pre-match press conference on Friday. “Back in full shape and ready to play.”
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Kante’s return to full fitness is a major boost for Tuchel, who has missed his presence in the middle of the pitch.
In his absence, Saul Niguez made his Blues debut against Aston Villa, but was withdrawn at half-time after an error-strewn performance.
Kante will compete with the in-form Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho for a place in Chelsea’s two-man midfield.
Tuchel confirmed that Chelsea had no fresh injuries, but Christian Pulisic is some way off making a return after picking up an injury on international duty.
“No fresh injury concerns,” he said. “Christian is trying to come back as fast as possible but is not in the squad.”
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Chelsea are unbeaten this season and have kept clean sheets in four of their six matches, but despite beating Villa 3-0 and Zenit 1-0 over the past week, they haven’t been at their best.
“I didn’t expect us to be at our top level early in September, especially after this pre-season and Covid,” Tuchel said.
“For me, at the moment, it is more important that we are competitive, we play relentless and have belief to overcome difficult minutes and periods within games.
“Aston Villa played at their top level, this is what we have to accept and respect. Competition is high. It is a good thing that we are able to win.”
He added: “I’m not saying we’re not playing well, we can play better but we are tough to beat. A win helps with atmosphere, keep calm and also be open to criticism.
“In the moment, I feel everybody is aware that we can do better. We are not really bad but we can do better.”
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