Chelsea have suffered a potentially major injury blow ahead of their Champions League final with Manchester City on the horizon.
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, a key part in Thomas Tuchel’s starting 11, had to be replaced at half-time of their final Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
The news will come as a big setback for Tuchel and Chelsea fans as they prepare to travel to Portugal looking to claim a second Champions League crown.
After going in 1-0 down at half-time at Villa Park, concern came about when Mendy didn’t appear from the tunnel for the second half, with Kepa Arrizabalaga instead taking his place in between the posts.
It is believed the injury was sustained as Villa opened the scoring.
Bertrand Traore fired home inside the box against his former side and Mendy, while in the process of trying to save the effort, appeared to collide with the post.
Further salt was rubbed into the Chelsea wound after half-time as Aston Villa bagged a second from the penalty spot and put the Blues’ Champions League dreams very much in the balance.
Ben Chilwell did pull one back for the visitors, but Tottenham’s 4-2 victory at Leicester ensured the Blues will again compete in the Champions League next season.
Sergio Aguero sends emotional message to Manchester City fan.
Sergio Aguero says the affection from Manchester City fans has made his time at the club so special, as he prepares to bid farewell after the Premier League fixture with Everton.
The legendary striker will be given a rousing reception in City’s final home game of the season, which will mark Aguero’s last outing at the Etihad. City have already unveiled a mosaic of Aguero at the training ground, naming a pitch after him as they have with other club legends like Yaya Toure, Joe Hart, David Silva and Vincent Kompany.
Aguero will be given a statue, and there will be a presentation on the pitch after the Everton game to recognise his contributions to the club.
Ahead of those goodbyes, Aguero said: “My message to the fans is: ‘Thank you. Thank you to the City fans for always supporting me.
“When you feel the love from your fans, everything is a lot easier. It’s the same for anyone in any line of work – when someone believes in you, you do better. I owe a lot to the people at this Club because I have the City fans to thank for everything.
“I remember being on the pitch and playing badly – games where I have played really badly – but it was incredible to see the fans still got behind me. I remember them shouting my name. I just want to say thank you and hope that they enjoy this moment.
“I have always felt it (appreciation), even from Manchester United fans! I go out to eat and everyone always shows me a lot of respect.
“It makes me really happy because I know that I have given my all for them. I have also met so many fans who are totally crazy about City, with tattoos, and I understand this kind of fanbase for a Club like this one.
“When I arrived here, I didn’t expect things to go as well as they did because I was the back-up striker at Atlético Madrid. When I started playing here, I was very much a number nine. Things went really well. I didn’t expect it but luckily, I started feeling really comfortable at the Club and my teammates helped me a lot.
“It made things a lot easier having players around me who were at such a high level with so much quality. It was a strange feeling at the beginning, but it didn’t take long before I was very happy here.
“Now, looking at the numbers it’s like: ‘Wow!’ At the beginning, I didn’t think much about the numbers but now I feel so happy for what I have achieved at the Club and the goals I have scored.
“We have won a lot of games. I leave here feeling very satisfied with what I have achieved here. In the last games, I will do my best so that I can leave on a high.
“I want all the fans who saw me play in the stadium to remember me for what they saw me do on the pitch. I always say that you enjoy yourself on the pitch because of the support of the fans.
“Lots of players don’t stay here for as long as I have been here for. Manchester will always be one of my homes. I’m not going to live here anymore of course as I have other plans now, but yes it will always feel like home to me.
“So, I want to say thank you to the fans and I hope that they enjoy the remaining games with the top players we have here.
“Right now, it’s me going but the others will leave eventually so it’s important to support them and enjoy every moment while they’re here at the Club.”
Looking back on his Etihad career, which has seen him lift 15 trophies so far, Aguero will obviously be best remembered for his title-winning goal against QPR, but he says he wants to be remembered for all of his club-record strikes and all-round work for the team.
He continued: “If I was to give advice to a young boy – a kid from Buenos Aires – I would say: ‘Enjoy it as much as you can and get on well with your teammates because that’s what will stay with you at the end of the day.’
“The best memories are the ones with your teammates and the people that work at the Club because you spend the most time with them – the physios, the doctors and also the catering staff. They’re the people we see the most.
“I’d say you should enjoy yourself as much as possible and if you’re a striker, you have to try and enjoy every goal. I still enjoy myself but when I was scoring goals I did start to think ‘well that’s just one goal more’ but it’s not easy scoring goals so my advice is to always enjoy it whether you are a striker, or a defender or a goalkeeper. Savour all the good moments.
“My job is to play well for the team and score goals when I’m in the box. That’s what I have done for my whole life and I enjoy every goal as if it was the first one. I feel good and when I feel good, I give my manager reasons to think I should play.
“As a striker, I have a responsibility playing under Pep as I know that we have a lot of possession, so we have so many chances and I have a responsibility to score.
“I think that the team has a lot more of the ball under Pep, so we have more opportunities. I think that he has improved the team, but we all have our individual strengths, whether it’s in the box, the wide players or midfielders.
“He is different to the other managers I have had at City. I think I became a better player and goalscorer under him because he likes his team to dominate the ball. This is fundamental for any striker; to have chances and contact with the ball. That’s what it’s about.
“It’s difficult [to say how I would like to be remembered] but I don’t want the fans just to remember me for the goal I scored against QPR. I want them to remember all my best moments in important games. I just want the fans to remember everything that I did on the pitch for them and for my teammates above all.
“[On Sunday], I am going to approach the game the same way as I always do: play my way, my style of play and do my best and then after the game I will greet the fans as they will be there. I’m going to enjoy it but first and foremost, I need to be focused as we have the Champions League final the week after.
“I will do my best for however many minutes I am given and afterwards enjoy myself with the fans.”