Many Chelsea players have deservedly received praise for the club’s impressive start to the Premier League campaign. One who hasn’t, though? N’Golo Kante. With the Frenchman, it’s always the same old story. And that’s exactly how he likes it.
Kante and Chelsea’s Top Form Go Hand in Hand
The Ultimate Midfield Destroyer
While he is also a fantastic technical player, there’s one thing that separates Kante from any other midfielder in the world: his ability to break up opposition attacks. When fit, he’s undoubtedly the best in the world at what he does.
His insatiable running makes it seem like there are two of him at times. He’s an excellent tackler and a very accomplished passer too. But what makes him the best in the world is his reading of the game. He’s just never in the wrong place, plain and simple.
When in his preferred role as holding midfielder, Kante always knows where to be defensively in order to stop the opposition. He might mistime a tackle or scuff a clearance (though it’s unlikely), but he won’t get caught out of position. His value to this Chelsea team cannot be understated, yet it often is.
The Blues are simply a different side without him, particularly because he allows for the two Number eights in front of him to focus on building attacks without worrying too much about providing defensive cover. Whether it be Mason Mount, Kai Havertz or Mateo Kovacic, they always know that they have the added insurance of Kante behind them.
He instils confidence in his defence as well, knowing they have such an accomplished player protecting them. While Edouard Mendy and Thiago Silva have been largely credited with restoring the club’s backline, Kante’s role has arguably been just as important.
The 29-year-old is a dream for any manager, and any talk that Frank Lampard would look to sell him is preposterous, as he himself has said.
Back to His Best This Season
Many point to last season’s transfer ban and the loss of Eden Hazard as to why Lampard’s side were up against it from the beginning, but there’s another reason, one which could’ve been just as important; Kante’s injuries.
The Frenchman had a torrid time last year, struggling all throughout the season with recurring injuries that he just couldn’t shake off. Even when he was on the pitch, his performances suffered, which is natural since he had no match fitness.
Despite his struggles, Lampard never doubted that Kante was a critical cog in the Chelsea machine, and so he has proved this time around. Anchoring the midfield effectively, the manager’s switch to a 4-3-3 has left him as the sole defensive midfielder, his best position. This also allows Mount and Havertz to play in their own preferred positions, so a player like Kante is a life-saver in that sense.
He doesn’t get media attention, and he doesn’t win Man of the Match. But make no mistake about it, N’Golo Kante is a big reason why Chelsea are thriving at the moment. He deserves as much credit as Mendy or Silva, and if the three of them can stay fit, the rock-solid defence Chelsea fans have gotten used to could be back for more this season.
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