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Kanté on Champions League debut, Drinkwater reunion, Arsenal’s main threat, and always improving

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West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Plenty of N’Golo Kanté quotes making the rounds over the past day or so, and understandably so. On Tuesday, he made his long-awaited Champions League debut. It was the debut he delayed on purpose just so that he could join Chelsea last summer after winning the title with Leicester City. He then of course repeated that trick with the Blues. The masterplan had worked and now it was time to reap the rewards.

After the easy 6-0 win, Kanté reflected on his decision

“It's special, special to play my first game [in the Champions League]. It was something that I used to watch when I was young and to play now with Chelsea here at Stamford Bridge is special. I am happy to make my debut in the Champions League.

"I remember when I was asked a year ago [about leaving Leicester to miss the Champions League]. I was sure to join this good club. We did well last season and now we have to play in the Champions League. We will fight to do well in all the competitions."

-N’Golo Kanté; source: ESPN

He also posted a most adorably Kanté-esque tweet, sharing his emotion with all of us mere mortals.

While the Chelsea midfielder isn’t flashy or loud on or off the pitch, he’s started the season in excellent form, picking up right where he left off last season when he won almost all the individiual awards, including the Premier League’s Player of the Season recognition. In fact, if anything, he’s been even better, able to influence the game not just out of possession but with the ball as well.

“Last season was amazing for me and the club but that was the past and we need to focus on the future. I don’t feel like the player of the year. I don’t really care about it when I am on the pitch. I try to improve in training, and give my best in the game.”

-N’Golo Kanté; source: Express

Kanté’s theme of constant improvement fits quite well with the ethos of his head coach, Antonio Conte, who has recently not only acknowledged Kanté’s improvement in areas that previously had been identified as weaknesses, but has also held him as the example to follow for others, but especially new arrival Tiemoué Bakayoko. Bakayoko, like Kanté, joined Chelsea in large part because of Conte. The pair have played together for France already and now are looking to establish a strong partnership at Chelsea for many years to come.

“For sure Nemanja Matic was a good player for us. I know he was in Chelsea for many years, I have the chance to play one year with him and he was a very good player for me. We spent a good season together. He left now, he plays for United but Bakayoko has come and I think he’s a good player, and that we can do very well with him.”

-N’Golo Kanté; source: Independent

Kanté has another familiar face joining him at Chelsea this season, his former Premier League-winning midfield cohort at Leicester City, Danny Drinkwater. Drinkwater arrived on transfer deadline day but has been limited by injuries since. Hopefully he’ll get to play soon, and, like Kanté says, go on to make even better memories than with the Foxes.

"I am pleased for him to come into Chelsea. We need everyone, especially after our time together in Leicester. I hope it could be something like Leicester or even more.”

"We did a special year together in Leicester to win the League. It wasn’t expected and I really enjoyed the season that I spent with him. I am happy that he chose to join Chelsea and I am happy to play with him again."

-N’Golo Kanté; source: Evening Standard

It’s tough to picture Kanté unhappy to play or see anyone, but Alexander Lacazette might come close. The former Lyon striker who’s currently trying to make sense of his surroundings at Arsenal, was picked out by the Kanté as the man to be most careful of when we face the Gunners this Sunday.

"I think maybe in England, you don’t know [Alexandre Lacazette] very well. But in France, he was a very good goalscorer who scored for many, many years and he will be a threat for Sunday’s game. We have to be ready to stop him but the most important thing is the team and we need to win."

-N’Golo Kanté; source: Evening Standard

It will the fourth meeting between the two sides in four months, with Chelsea losing twice (FA Cup final; Community Shield) and winning one minor friendly. That trend needs reversing.

“I have spent one year with Antonio Conte, and we understand now how we have to play, we have to work. But people know how we play, so we have to find the solution.

“Arsenal know how we play, but we know how they play. It’s going to be a good fight, and we need to be ready. We need to win.

“In the FA Cup final we were close to winning, but after the red card [for Victor Moses], it was more difficult for us. In both games we were good, we were close to winning. We know how they play, and we fight to win.”

-N’Golo Kanté; source: Express

Work. Fight. Win.

So say we all.