Kante: Partner prospects

N'Golo Kante shares his thoughts on the central-midfield dynamic developing at Stamford Bridge in the early weeks of the 2017/18 campaign...
 

Last season's PFA and FWA Player of the Year has started both of our Premier League matches so far, playing alongside a different partner in each match; Cesc Fabregas in the defeat against Burnley followed by Tiemoue Bakayoko in last weekend's win at Tottenham, with David Luiz also part of the midfield on that occasion. 

That followed a campaign in which he predominantly played alongside the now-departed Nemanja Matic and ahead of the visit of Everton on Sunday, Kante highlighted the most important aspect of the midfield selection.

'Who plays is not the most important – we had very good players last season and this season also,' he said. 'The main thing is how we play and how we work in the training.

'As soon as Tiemoue understands how the team work, how the manager wants us to work, we can play very well.

'Tottenham was his first game and it wasn't easy for him, because it was the first game away to a good opponent, and he did very well. I've tried to help him to settle well at Chelsea and feel good in the squad.'

The Blues will be hoping for a repeat of last season's corresponding fixture against Everton at the Bridge, which we won 5-0 with a performance Kante believes was our best of the campaign. Although the Toffees have made several additions to a squad which finished seventh last term, the key battle for Kante is likely to come against Idrissa Gueye, a midfielder in the same mould who boasted a similarly impressive set of statistics.

'I knew him from when he was France and he was already good, and now he's doing very well in England,' the 26-year-old said. 'He's a good guy and a good player also.

'If he plays it will be a good battle in the midfield, but there are a lot of good players in the Everton squad and it's going to be a tough game for everyone. But we are at home and we hope to win.'

One of the stars of last season's 5-0 win over the Toffees was Eden Hazard, but the Belgian has been out of action in the early part of the campaign after suffering an ankle injury in the summer.

He managed 75 minutes for the Under-23s on Friday evening as the Blues fell to a 3-0 defeat against Everton and Kante is looking forward to welcoming back the man who pipped him to Chelsea's Player of the Year award last term.

'We know he's a top player and to have him in the squad is really important for us because he can make the difference in every moment. We're waiting for him to be ready and to come back and help us.'