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'Kovacic has injured his knee' - What will Chelsea miss against Tottenham Hotspur with the absence of the Croatian?

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Thomas Tuchel was asked in his pre-match press conference this afternoon about injury concerns going into the Tottenham clash and one big name who many tipped to start this weekend is expected to miss out.

Mateo Kovacic was left on the bench for last weekend's game against Everton and he is set to miss the Tottenham game with a knee problem, Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.

With N'Golo Kante playing the full match against Everton, many saw this as a guarantee that Kovacic would start on Sunday with Jorginho alongside him, but now it looks like it'll be the same midfield pairing as last weekend.

N'golo Kante

N'Golo Kante warming up for Chelsea

According to Chelsea correspondent Adam Newson, the Croatian's injury isn't a fresh problem as he had strapping on his knee during the pre-season tour of America, so it is clearly something the midfielder has been nursing for an extended spell.

What does Kovacic's injury mean for Chelsea?

Despite Chelsea's midfield depth consisting of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Conor Gallagher and Carney Chukwuemeka, Kovacic is a valuable player who brings unique qualities to Tuchel's team as he has shown countless times since he joined the club in 2018.

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Kovacic with the Croatian National Team

Kovacic with the Croatian National Team

His dribbling expertise and being able to effortlessly glide forward with the ball to create space from the centre of the pitch is not something the other midfielders have at their disposable, while his ability to beat an opposition's press and get out of very tight spaces is probably the thing that Chelsea will miss most this weekend.

With Jorginho and Kante, it is sometimes quite easy to predict how Chelsea will build from the back and Jorginho showed against Everton that when he is under pressure from an opposition front line, he is quite vulnerable to turning the ball over. 

Now 31, should Kante feel the heat of playing a heavy set of minutes for two games in a row, the Blues' midfield depth will be key to ensure the middle of the park for Chelsea is in the healthiest position possible for what will be an intense battle.

On Sunday, Chelsea’s midfield will need to get control of the game from the start and dominate throughout to avoid being put under too much pressure from Antonio Conte's side. If they can do that, hopefully the team can prove that Kovacic's absence can be covered should his injury be prolonged.

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