Indispensable midfielder N’Golo Kante was the latest to speak to Chelsea’s official website ahead of Chelsea’s massive game against league leaders and team extraordinaire, Manchester City.
Last year’s famous 3-1 win for Chelsea not only defined a Premier League title for the Blues, it also followed a similar win for Kanté, personally, who accomplished that same feat (title included!) with Leicester City the season before.
Can he make it three in a row?
“My two matches at the Etihad have been two important wins but I think every season is different and this will be another different game.
“It was an important game in our season because we were losing 1-0 and then they hit the bar, so we avoided going 2-0 down, and in the second half we reacted well and ended up winning 3-1.
“It was a game which proved really important in terms of keeping our momentum last season. It was a very good day for us and I hope we can get another good result there today.”
Of course, this game matters for a much different reason than any sort of title ambitions. That part of the league is gone. But the top four race is very much still on, despite Liverpool and Tottenham both winning their games yesterday to open up seven and five-point leads, respectively, over Chelsea.
Kanté doesn’t think Manchester City are unstoppable however; we just have to perform with and without the ball.
“[City] play good football but I think it will be different to the game against Barcelona because they are different players. We have prepared well as a team with the tactics of the manager and for sure every player has to perform with and without the ball if we want to have a good game.”
Chelsea played an all-smalls 3-4-3 with Kanté partnering Fàbregas in midfield against Barcelona. Would not be surprising to see Chelsea line up slightly differently today. One constant will be Kanté needing to dominate the middle.
“I think when we play with three midfielders often I play as the central figure of the three and my role is more to help the defenders rather than go forward, and to always be there when the other team try to counter attack or make a pass for their centre-forward, so I stay back more.
“When we play with two midfielders my position is a little bit different because I have to keep on one side, either the right or left, and the other midfielder defends the other one. Last season we played mostly with two midfielders. The 3-5-2, when we play against a team who has a lot of the ball, helps us to be stronger defensively and very fast on the counter-attack. Both systems have their advantages.”
Chelsea will have to use these formations to their maximum potential not just today but the rest of this very difficult period in the fixture list (Barcelona twice, Manchester United and City away, Leicester City in the FA Cup, etc.).
“It’s a big period. We have some good challenges in the Premier League and we are trying to get back in the top four, and we also have the two other competitions – the Champions League and FA Cup – which are good to be involved in.
“We have some big games ahead of us and we have to prepare in the best way. We want to go as far as we can, for ourselves, for the club and for everybody who supports Chelsea.
“I saw the draw for the FA Cup and it’s always nice to play against your old club, but myself and the rest of the team just want to go there to win.”
-N’Golo Kante; Source: Chelsea FC
After a frustrating draw and a frustrating loss in our last two games, perhaps something different and better is on the cards today. If Kanté brings his top form and the rest of the squad plays up to their potential, we just might!
Most Tackles This Season— EPL Stat Man (@EPLStatman) February 28, 2018