Kante starts for Chelsea in Europa League final


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N’Golo Kante has been passed fit after a knee injury and starts for Chelsea in Wednesday’s Europa League final against English rivals Arsenal in Baku.

The Frenchman had been rated as no better than “50/50” by Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri on the eve of the game in Azerbaijan after suffering the injury in training at the weekend.

He makes his first appearance since coming off with a hamstring injury in a 3-0 win over Watford on May 5. That problem forced him to sit out Chelsea’s last two games.

Olivier Giroud, scorer of 10 goals in 13 Europa League appearances this season, is preferred to Gonzalo Higuain up front for Chelsea against his old club, while Emerson Palmieri is chosen ahead of Marcos Alonso at left-back.

Eden Hazard also starts in what could be his last game for the club amid reports that a transfer to Real Madrid is imminent.

For Arsenal, Petr Cech gets the nod in goal in his final match before retiring. He has been linked with a return to Chelsea, his old side, in an upstairs role.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is missing after not travelling because of fears over his safety due to an ongoing political dispute between Azerbaijan and his home country, Armenia.

Starting line-ups for the Europa League final between Chelsea and Arsenal at the Baku Olympic Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off 10pm):

Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta (capt), Andreas Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson Palmieri; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic; Pedro Rodriguez, Olivier Giroud, Eden Hazard

Petr Cech; Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Laurent Koscielny (capt), Nacho Monreal; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Sead Kolasinac; Mesut Ozil; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette

Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)

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