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One plus one equals three, Matić and Kanté doing the job of three

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Chelsea’s midfield duo in the tactical spotlight

Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

We’ve spent plenty of time over the past few months watching, learning, talking about what makes Conte’s 3-4-3 tick.

Is it the wingbacks and the rise of Victor Moses? Is it the back three and David Luiz’s modern libero? Is it Diego Costa being in the form of his life? Is it Eden Hazard unshackled? Is it the Kanté twins in the middle? As with most great football strategies, the answer is all of the above — a custom-tailored tactical setup by Chelsea’s own Dolce & Gabbana.

Football analyst Tom Payne, of Spielverlagerung fame but writing for The Ringer this time, takes a look at one specific facet of Conte’s setup, the one that provides both the solidity and the dynamism needed to make a two-man midfield work. Namely, he shines a light on the Nemanja Matić and N’Golo Kanté partnership, a pair of box-to-box midfielders who are dissimilar in just the right ways to make it all work.

You should ready it.

Kanté’s ability to pratically be in two or more places at the same time is well documented, but Payne also reserves special mention for Matić who’s often been playing at his Spiderbeasty best with his long reach and loping stride. Matić had a torrid time of things last seaoson, but he’s rewarding Conte’s faith quite handsomely.