The clash of titans is here. Chelsea takes on the mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup Final after losing to Jurgen Klopp’s men in the League Cup final a few months ago. Revenge seems to be on the minds of the Blues, who are counting on every member of their squad to give Liverpool a run for their money.
But a preferential candidate for Thomas Tuchel whenever they face the Reds is the midfield engine and his trusted confidante, N’Golo Kante, who seems to be dealing with injury issues at the moment.
Back in 2020, when Chelsea faced Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup final, Kante made his first start of the season at the time. He was returning to the pitch after a small stint with injury and delivered one of his most dominating and exhilarating performances to keep the scoreline to 2-2 until the 120th minute. He stepped up.
The then 28-year-old midfielder analyzed the movement of Liverpool players so well that he was able to constantly rob possession and keep the Reds at bay. He added an attacking enigma to his style of play as well by making the forward runs and surprising the Liverpool defenders at times. Even though Chelsea lost on penalties but Kante delivered a masterclass for the ages when he wasn’t even entirely match-fit.
In a 2-1 defeat to Liverpool at home in 2019, Kante scored the only goal for his team while still not running at the top of his game. In both performances, Kante matched his intensity with that of Liverpool’s high octane and high-powered football. He pushed himself to the zenith and kept going. This is what the Liverpool fans fear and pray that it doesn’t happen.
Tuchel recently announced that even though Kante missed the previous three Premier League games for the Blues owing to an unspecified injury, he had trained with the team ahead of the big final and is determined to play on Saturday.
“It’s the moment to take risks.” Tuchel clarified that he hopes that Kante might overcome his troubles and play against the ferocious Reds, and given the Frenchman’s reputation and his previous rodeos against the Reds, he might just come roaring back to tame the Red giant.
And the Liverpool fans are aware of it. Liverpool Twitter is wary of Kante’s determination to play against Liverpool where one user mentioned that even if Kante’s fitness rest at 10%, he’ll come on and deliver a masterclass again Klopp’s side.
Many compared him to the return of the ‘Undertaker’ from WWE, who rises from the ashes at the last moment and thrashes his opponents. This is what some Liverpool fans are afraid of, but given Kante’s recent performances, many wouldn’t even consider him to bother the liquidity of Liverpool’s football.
Some suggested that Kante has been in a state of deep freeze or maybe in cryosleep, recharging, waiting for the opportune moment to strike. And the moment has arrived, his favourite villain is at the door.
But the question remains, will Thomas Tuchel risk using him even if he’s not entirely fit or unleash the Kraken with whatever strength he has to offer.
We’ll find out soon when Chelsea and Liverpool go head to head in one of the biggest matches of the season on a warm summer evening at Wembley.
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