Today’s game against Cardiff City presents the Blues with the perfect opportunity to build on what has been a strong start to the season, says N’Golo Kante.
Maurizio Sarri’s side return to action following the international break with a second consecutive home match as the recently-promoted Bluebirds, who are searching for their first win, head to Stamford Bridge.
It’s been a positive opening to life under Sarri with Chelsea taking maximum points from our first four matches. The team performed well in our most recent fixture, the 2-0 win over Bournemouth, and Kante hopes we can pick up where we left off later today.
‘We have a new manager, new system, new players and we’ve started very well this season,’ said Kante. ‘It was a good start, now we need to keep going. We have some tough games ahead and some new competitions so we need to keep going in this way.
‘It will be my first game against Cardiff. I think their team improved last season and for sure they will want to do well against us. We need to be ready, we’ve prepared for the game this week and we will try to win in front of our fans and keep the momentum.
‘Everybody at Chelsea wants to be in the Champions League and I think we have the team to fight at the top, this is what we will try to do. But there are many teams who can compete for the Premier League and we will try to be in this battle.’
After helping France win the World Cup over the summer, Kante has returned to his club side and taken up a slightly different role than the one he has performed over the last couple of seasons, playing further forward with a license to provide an attacking threat, as proved with his goal in our opening-day win at Huddersfield [pictured above].
‘Yes, I enjoy it,’ he acknowledged. ‘It’s a new system and I enjoy being in this position, to get into the box and to get back and defend sometimes as well. It depends on the game but I enjoy the position. Sometimes you need to keep the balance and to get back and stay with the opposing midfielder. It’s one thing to move forward but it depends on the situation.
‘This is my fourth season in the Premier League and in the last three I scored once in the league. I’ve already scored once this season and I think I will be further forward. I’ve already had many chances and I need to understand that in this position sometimes you have to score to make the difference for the team. I need to be ready for that but I don’t have a target. If I don’t score any more and the team keep winning, and I can help the team, then I will be happy. But when I have a chance I would like to score, of course.’
During our first four matches it’s been Jorginho operating at the base of the midfield trio, and Kante believes the summer arrival is a pivotal part of the side, particularly given the way Sarri wants us to play.
‘It’s a new system, 4-3-3, and we need to use Jorginho a lot,’ said Kante. ‘I think he is a good player with the ability to make the play in behind and find the players in front. At the moment it’s working very well and we hope to keep going in this way.
‘I think he’s very talented. When you give him the ball he’s able to keep calm and find good passes. He also understands the way the manager wants us to play so to have him is a big advantage.’
Kante was also full of praise for another team-mate, Eden Hazard, who has now scored in all four matches he has started for club and country this season. Both players were nominated for the FIFA FIFPro World 11 earlier this week.
‘I think Eden has been in the Premier League for many years and I think he’s the best player in the league,’ said the Frenchman. ‘To have him here at Chelsea is a big advantage for the team and for the club. Yes, he has had a good start and in every game he has had a big influence, which is good for him and it’s good for the team to have Eden in this form.’
The France team celebrated their World Cup triumph after last Sunday’s Nations League win over the Netherlands in Paris, with the trophy brought out onto the pitch and each player introduced to the jubilant supporters. For Kante and his team-mates, it was a special moment.
‘It was beautiful because when we won the World Cup it was the end of one month together and seven games together, the end of one big adventure,’ he explained.
‘We enjoyed it with our fans when we went back to France, and at the Champs-Elysees it was beautiful. Then to come back one month later it was to close the chapter of the World Cup. We enjoyed it with all the players but now we need to think about the next competition, the Nations League, and we need to qualify for the Euros.’