Chelsea vs Burnley - Chelsea not the favourites for Europa League, insists Kante

Posted Saturday, April 20, 2019 by PA

Chelsea vs Burnley - Chelsea not the favourites for Europa League, insists Kante

N’Golo Kante insists Chelsea do not consider themselves Europa League favourites.

The Blues raced into a 3-0 lead in Thursday’s quarter-final second leg against Slavia Prague at Stamford Bridge, only for the visitors to pull three goals back for a fraught finale.

Chelsea prevailed 4-3 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate, with Pedro on target twice and Olivier Giroud notching his 10th Europa League goal of the campaign.

Maurizio Sarri’s men will now face Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals, but with Arsenal facing Valencia in the other last-four tie Kante maintains Chelsea will not get ahead of themselves.

“We’re not favourites; we played a good match and we will do all we can to get to the final,” said Kante.

“But we’re not favourites. It was important for us to win this game.

“I think it’s important to be in the semi-finals, it was our target.”

Chelsea are still chasing a top-four Premier League finish, along with their European ambitions, and return to domestic matters when they face Burnley on Monday evening, where they cannot afford to drop points.

And World Cup winner Kante believes completing that Europa League mission would turn Chelsea’s campaign into a success.

“We can make the season beautiful by winning the Europa League,” said Kante.

“That’s the only title we can win now, so it would be great to win the Europa League.

“I think at the beginning of the game it was a good feeling to score three goals like this. The most important thing was to qualify.

“We’ll go into the semi-final with confidence and we hope to qualify for the final.”

Burnley manager Sean Dyche believes teenager Dwight McNeil will not be distracted by any “outside noise” as he continues his rapid rise in the game.

McNeil has made 16 starts for Burnley in the Premier League this season, scoring three goals and providing five assists, and helped the Clarets all-but secure their top-flight safety.

The 19-year-old winger trained with England’s senior squad for the first time while on duty with the under-20s last month and has inevitably been linked with a move away from Turf Moor, but Dyche is confident McNeil will take it all in his stride.

“He’s been here long enough to see that happen to other players, hopefully he’ll take it as one of those things,” Dyche said.

“He’s certainly in a balanced environment here, where I can’t see him running away with any outside noise, he seems to be quite steady and enjoying his football. That’s what I want him to do, play with a smile on his face and enjoy the challenge.”

Newcastle, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City have all been linked with McNeil, but Dyche is not interested in putting a price on the player, whose contract runs until the summer of 2023.

“I like his assuredness. He’s quiet, he’s calm, but there’s a toughness in there, particularly to have the ball. That’s something that can come and go with players, but he’s certainly got that desire to grip a game with the ball, ‘give me the ball, I want to do something’.

“That’s a powerful thing, particularly in a young player, because sometimes that’s hard, but he will have the ball under any circumstances, he wants the ball, to try and produce something.”

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