N’Golo Kante’s injury is a devastating blow to Chelsea’s title challenge.
His energy, ball winning qualities, and all round play has seen him win two Premier League titles in succession, first with Leicester City and then Chelsea last season where he was also named the PFA Player of the Year.
His performances in central midfield for club and country also saw him included in the 30-man shortlist for this year’s Ballon d’Or award.
There is no player in world football better at retrieving the ball to give to his more creative teammates. Kante was arguably the biggest reason Leicester City dropped off so much last season, and Chelsea improved to win the league.
However, Chelsea still have an exceptional side and here are three ways they can cope with Kante’s absence.
Despite Antonio Conte using a 3-4-3 to win the league last season, the Italian was an advocate for the 3-5-2 at Juventus and has used that system on occasion this season, most notably the tactically brilliant performance in the 2-1 win away to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
With Kante missing for Chelsea, the Blues may look to make up for the inevitable energy loss and tackling ability by putting more numbers in the middle.
New signing Danny Drinkwater is expected to return from injury in the near future, and he could be thrown in at the deep end quicker than expected.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has many similar traits to Kante. With him in the midfield, along with Drinkwater, Chelsea should still have enough organisation and defensive discipline in the middle of the park. Not only that, with Conte being able to deploy a three man central midfield, he will be able to include the creative talents of Cesc Fabregas due to the cover of Bakayoko and Drinkwater.
Four at the back
Conte may decide to ditch the three at the back system with Kante missing, however the players in this structure would allow for flexibility, meaning Chelsea could easily revert back to the three-man defence during the game.
David Luiz has been deployed as a defensive midfield before, and was often exceptional with his reading of the game, ball winning abilities and technical qualities. Not only that, Luiz would be able to drop into the defence, splitting Antonio Rudiger and Gary Cahill to revert to type.
Bakayoko would provide the box to box qualities needed in a three man central midfield with Fabregas offering the creativity and passing through the lines, making for an extremely balanced and effective Chelsea side.
In recent weeks, Mauricio Pochettino has deployed a three at the back, midfield diamond structure in the Premier League. It has led to some pretty convincing wins and performances, and Conte may decide to follow suit as he certainly has the players.
Luiz is ideal for the pivot, Bakayoko provides the energy and aggression in a box to box role whilst Fabregas certainly has the ability to replicate the role Christian Eriksen is currently fulfilling superbly for Spurs.
With Alvaro Morata injured, Eden Hazard will have to provide a lot of the attacking impetus for his side and make sure he is constantly in support of the striker.
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