For the first time since landing on English shores in 2015, N’Golo Kanté finished without a trophy last season, failing to add to his two Premier League titles (2015-16, 2016-17); or his FA Cup (2017-18) or Europa League (2018-19) trophies. And with Euro 2020 bumped to 2021 due to the coronavirus, he didn’t get a chance to add to his 2018 World Cup triumph with France either.
The soft-spoken and publicly shy midfield force of nature also had a relatively rough season personally, dealing with numerous injuries that prevented him from ever really having a consistent run in the team (just 22 league appearances) — including a hamstring injury that kept him from playing in the FA Cup final, which Chelsea would go on to lose to Arsenal.
And that simply won’t do, especially after the heavy investment in new player signings this summer, to follow on from Frank Lampard’s Youth Revolution from his first season in charge. While Lampard’s accomplishments last year should not be overlooked, the ambitions of everyone at the club — from the owner on down to the manager, the players, and the fans — are very clear indeed.
“The team has changed in recent years, the coach has been here for a year working together. I think we have signed a fair amount of new players and what we are trying to do is to maintain Chelsea’s standards, win titles and be at the top in England.
“We are well placed at the moment, I hope we will continue in this vein. And I hope that we will qualify for the Champions League as quickly as possible again.”
-N’Golo Kanté; source: TF1 via Metro
The gap from Chelsea to the league’s cream of the crop may not be bridged in one single bound, but we seem to have a solid (and long-term!) plan and are executing well to it. All the new signings have fit in quite well and, to a man, have made immediate impact, while the homegrown talent have continued to play a big role as well, and not just in filling out the squad’s numbers.
With Kanté himself healthy and fit as well — and transitioning into a more defensive-focused role in the midfield three that could just be they key to finding the proper balance in the team — we just might be able to return to our standards soon.