N’Golo Kante is one of the best midfielders in world football. However last season he struggled with injuries at Chelsea. There have been times when he hasn’t been able to influence the game as much as he has done in the past. Maurizio Sarri used him in an orthodox box to box role. Lampard continued the trend but this time Kante had improved himself in that role.
Even at the start of this season, Kante played as a box to box midfielder. However in recent games that have changed. Chelsea now plays in a 4-3-3 formation, with the Frenchman as the defensive pivot. The likes of Ziyech and Kovacic are allowed to run the game and Kante provides the necessary defensive protection. It looks like he is now again enjoying himself and this position looks more natural to him than the previous one.
With the formation change, results have also improved for the Blues. They have won their previous five games in all competitions. In the process, they have scored sixteen goals and conceded just one. Recently they defeated Newcastle United 0-2 at St. James Park in the Premier League. Kante was again playing as the defensive pivot with Mount and Kovacic ahead of him.
Since his arrival at Stamford Bridge, he has seen three managerial changes. The former Leicester City midfielder has been a key player for all three of them. So far he has won 1 Premier League, 1 FA Cup, and 1 Europa League as well. The 29 years old has been a crucial player for Chelsea in the past and he will continue to do so in the future as well. Lampard was full of praise of the world cup winner after the Newcastle win.
What Lampard said about Kante after the Newcastle United game
Lampard said that last season he was unavailable for games due to injuries and other reasons. He also revealed that the club has been trying hard to keep him fit and manage the way he trains. He said “Last year, however, you want to phrase it, he missed 50 percent of games with injuries, he had a tough time for different reasons. We’ve been working very hard to get him fit and fresh with how we manage his training and game time. But his levels of performance are really high“
The Chelsea manager has a lot of faith in the Frenchman, he praised how Kante breaks up the play and wins the ball. He said as per Metro “I keep saying every time I get asked about N’Golo I have so much faith in him. The top midfielder that he is in world football, and not just breaking up and winning balls back, we know that’s a huge quality, but his passing and supporting in midfield, playing in that deeper role now, it’s been a very comfortable transition for him as he’s playing.”
Last season Kante missed crucial games for Chelsea. The Blues were chasing the top-four spot but in absence of Kante, they lost to Sheffield United 3-0 and 5-3 to Liverpool. He also missed the first leg against Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. The former Caen midfielder also missed the FA Cup final against Arsenal. Even when he was playing as a box to box midfielder he would often provide defensive cover. Kante’s absence is often felt in the Chelsea midfield.
This season in the Premier League he has made nine appearances. He makes 2.8 tackles per game and 3 interceptions per game. Given the recent run of games, it looks like Kante’s injury issues are behind him. With him as the defensive midfielder, he can provide more defensive cover to the defenders as well.
The lack of cover for N’Golo Kante
Currently, in the Chelsea squad, they have five midfielders Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Gilmour, and Mount. Out of these players, Kante is clearly the undroppable player. However, at times he will also need rest. Chelsea doesn’t really have a player who can provide adequate cover for the Frenchman. In other words, there is no player who can who what Kante does for the team.
No other player can break up the play and provide defensive cover to the defenders. Last season his absence was clearly felt in the big games. Lampard would not want this to happen again. If he is absent from the midfield then Jorginho or Gilmour are likely to replace him. Though they may be able to pass around the ball better than Kante, they come nowhere near close to him when it comes to providing defensive cover.
It would be wise for the Premier League side to add another defensive midfielder in the January transfer window. In the Frenchman’s absence, they will have to change the way they play. When Kante is there forwards can be a little more relaxed but in his absence, they will prefer to play safe.
Even Chelsea defenders will have more confidence if they have someone similar to Kante in front of them. If Lampard continues to play this way, the Blues defenders will get used to the protection provided by Kante. Thus a defensive midfielder is needed at Stamford Bridge to provide cover for Kante.