Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes Chelsea need N’Golo Kante to be fit to face Liverpool in the European Super Cup this evening. The Frenchman came on as a substitute in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester United but suffered a knock in the closing stages of the match.
Manager Frank Lampard has cast doubt over whether the midfielder will feature in Istanbul tonight, but Keown believes that without Kante, the Blues’ defence will be exposed, much like it was against United:
“Having Kante is like having two players on the pitch. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic played in front of the defence against United but neither can do what Kante does. He patrols, he protects and that is what Chelsea’s centre backs need.”
“Liverpool’s front three will try to stretch their opponents. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will look to exploit the space between Chelsea’s centre backs and full-backs.”
“Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold will bomb forward as they usually do and float quality balls into the box. Chelsea’s defence will need all the help they can get and having Kante would be a huge boost.”
Protection in front of the back four will be needed this evening, with Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen looking uncomfortable at Old Trafford at the weekend.
As Keown mentions, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho are not necessarily the type of players to fight fires off the ball, as they are much better in possession. Whether Kante will be fit to start could play an important part as to whether Chelsea lift their first trophy under Lampard.