Analysing N'Golo Kante's man-of-the-match display in Chelsea's win over Leicester
N’Golo Kante was in the spot-light at lunch-time on Saturday as his former club Leicester City were the visitors to Stamford Bridge. The Foxes were keen to keep the Frenchman ahead of their title defence and his departure has had a hugely negative effect on both their defensive set-up and their transition phase.
They are now struggling in the league and were once again porous in midfield areas on Saturday. It would be too convenient to state that Kante was the difference in Chelsea’s 3-0 win, but he was one of the better performers as he continues to settle into his new club.
It was his ball carrying and passing that impressed most on Saturday, as he showed a part of his game that he isn’t known for. The change in formation allowed Kante to play a bigger part in the transition phase and it was closer to the role that he was used in at Leicester. It now looks like Antonio Conte is coming close to finding a style that suits the squad at Stamford Bridge and the freer role for Kante is central to that.
He completed both of the dribbles that he attempted in the match, showing his ability to carry the ball into the final third when required. The French international is quick and mobile, which allows him to evade challenges before releasing the ball. He is by no means a complete midfielder, but he is much better technically than he is given credit for. In this Chelsea side, Nemanja Matic is the holding midfielder and playing alongside him has benefited Kante. The 25-year-old has now got the freedom to cover the entire pitch and as we know from last season, this is how to get the best from him.
The Sky Sports punditry team were impressed by the Frenchman’s passing, as he showed that he can do more than just pass the ball ten yards. He finished the match with a pass accuracy of 87% from 86 attempted passes, which shows how key he was to Chelsea’s game on Saturday. Kante played several probing forward balls and ended the match with two key passes. He showed that he has an impressive passing range and Chelsea fans will be hoping that he can dominate matches consistently.
His defensive contribution remained impressive as he worked tirelessly for his side when Leicester had possession. The midfielder won all four of his attempted four tackles and made a further five interceptions. He remains one of the best at retrieving the ball in the Premier League and that was clear once again on Saturday. His overall contribution has fallen slightly since his move to Stamford Bridge, but that is due to other factors, rather than Kante dropping a level. He is now playing in a side that is capable of dominating possession and he isn’t required to win the ball back as frequently as he was at Leicester.
There was a moment when it looked like Kante would score against his former club, as the ball rebounded to him in the box, but a superb block from Wes Morgan denied him. It would have been the icing on the top of the cake for Kante in a superb midfield display.
It was inevitable that Ngolo Kante would be under the microscope in this match as he competed against his former side. His impressive focus allowed him to put in arguably his best performance of the season, helping his new side to a comfortable 3-0 victory. Kante has had to adapt his game to suit playing in a side comfortable in possession and this performance is a positive indication for the season ahead.
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