Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he expects midfielder N’Golo Kante to recover from injury in time to face Arsenal on Sunday, when he could be joined by new teammate Romelu Lukaku.
Kante missed the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend after complaining of an ankle injury following the Super Cup triumph against Villarreal, with Mateo Kovacic taking his usual place alongside Jorginho.
Chelsea coped without the Frenchman during the game, after which Tuchel confirmed that he expects to see Kante back in time for the trip to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
“N’Golo felt discomfort in his ankle on Friday,” said Tuchel (via the club’s official website). “He felt it in the warm-up to the Super Cup match against Villarreal and he already played a little bit in pain and overcame the pain in that game.
“But on Friday he felt it again and we decided to take him out and not to take any risk now at the beginning of the season. I think N’Golo will be back in the middle of the week to hopefully be ready for Arsenal.”
The boss then changed his focus to Lukaku, whose mandatory quarantine period is has finished. The £97.5m signing is now free to link up with his new team and prepare to face an Arsenal back line that was just ripped apart by the physicality of Brentford’s Ivan Toney.
“We expect Romelu to finish quarantine in time to be able to join team training on Tuesday, because Monday is our day off,” he said. “So we will try to prepare him to play against Arsenal and hopefully he can be on the pitch.”
Tuchel even hinted that Lukaku’s return could lead to a change in formation as he searches to find a way to keep his plethora of attacking players happy.
“With the addition of Romelu, we get the number one striker and we want to have him on the pitch,” Tuchel said. “This is very clear. If you do this kind of transfer, we are absolutely sure we want to have him on the pitch, but I think he will lift the pressure off the shoulders of the young guys, from Kai [Havertz], Timo [Werner] and Christian [Pulisic], because Romelu is the kind of personality who loves responsibility.
“I think we have now with Romelu the chance also to play with two strikers, like they did at Inter with him, or to continue with three strikers. We will see now how this works out and we will find a solution for the players around him.”