N’Golo Kanté made his long-awaited return to the pitch on Sunday as Chelsea notched a third successive victory in the Premier League, making the immediate and massive difference that the team was missing during his month-long absence via injury.
But injuries, especially muscle injuries like hamstring strains tend to linger and thus tend to sap confidence as players aren’t sure whether they can fully trust their own bodies. And contrary to most evidence, Kanté is also just human and thus subject to such mind games.
"I need more confidence because when you play after this injury, you have some fear. But with one week's training, and this game, I have more confidence. I'm happy to be back.
"It was a long time for me to be out. I prefer to play. It is more stressful when you cannot play. It is strange to be outside. It's another point of view. You are a spectator, you cannot help, you just wish the best to your team mates."
In Kanté’s absence, Chelsea won just half of our games and gave up 12 goals in 6 games, half of those in two games to AS Roma. Combined with the shock defeat at Crystal Palace, it was an October to not remember, especially as the narratives and the outside pressures were building on the team, the players, and the coaching staff.
That said, Chelsea do have a three-game winning streak going in the league and that’s certainly something we can build on as winter arrives.
“The season is not bad. It was a bad defeat against Roma in the Champions League, but to qualify we need just one win. In the league, we are fourth and we just need to keep going. It was important to win against United - and we have to keep going now."
-N’Golo Kanté; source: Express
Fortunately, Kanté was not called up to the France squad for this international break, which will give him a leisurely two weeks to get fully healthy — “I’m going to use that time to get back to 100%,” he told SFR Sport 1 when asked about Deschamps’s decision. Same goes for the likes of Bakayoko, Alonso, Azpilicueta, Fàbregas, David Luiz, and a few others, which should mean plenty of training and recovery time under the watchful gaze of Antonio Conte at Cobham before Chelsea return to action at The Hawthorns on the 18th.