There has been so much discussion in the past 12 months about where on the pitch N’Golo Kante is most effective, but Frank Lampard refused to be drawn into the debate today, instead explaining what the Frenchman can offer wherever he is deployed.
Lampard’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri selected Kante on the right-hand side of the midfield three, and not in the more central position he made his name with at Leicester. Against Liverpool on Wednesday it was Kante nominally on the right again, with Jorginho sitting.
‘The important thing for all my midfield is that we have a flexibility and nobody is pinned down to an absolute structure,’ stressed Lampard at his press conference this afternoon.
‘We saw elements of that against Liverpool, where the players had the freedom to use their attributes.
‘The idea he wins the ball as well as anyone in world football doesn’t mean he has to sit in front of the back four. He has too much in his game: driving forward with the ball, leaving midfield areas and winning the ball back high up the pitch.’
The boss has been impressed with another midfielder’s start to the season, Mason Mount
‘His attitude is so good. He is so hungry and very understanding of what it needs to be a player. He trains every day with absolute application and focus.
‘The two games he’s played gives me confidence this will be the season for him. He probably won’t start every game, but if he carries on the way he’s going he’s going to be a huge influence for us this season.’
Lampard also spoke about the challenge Leicester will pose us on Sunday
‘It’s a big game for us in front of our home fans for the first time this season. Leicester are very much a team that should be respected for the players and manager they have got and how they have performed in recent years.
‘I know Brendan [Rodgers] well. He’s a fantastic manager. He’s got a great group of players there, a nice mix of top quality young players and experienced players. They will be well coached so we are going to have a big challenge.
‘Our mindset is important. It’s been a strange two games. We can’t think the strong performance on Wednesday will replicate itself just because we walk out on that pitch. It’s important we tackle it head on with a real focus.’
Lampard was asked what his feeling would be taking charge of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for first time
‘Pride. I’m proud to manage this club. I have been back to Stamford Bridge a couple of times since I left here as a player and was lucky enough to have really good support.
‘It’s going to be an emotional, special day for me but that’s just for me. The most important thing for us is trying to get the three points and that’s what I am really worried about.’
Michy Batshuayi hasn’t featured yet and Lampard spoke about his future
‘The future is Michy is here as one of our strikers. We know we have three strikers but there will be opportunities for him.
‘With Michy it’s important he trains at the top, top level every day, gets himself absolutely fit to play the way I want my strikers to play, which is constant movement on and off the ball and to try and score goals.
‘But he’s very much our player and competing with Tammy and Oli for that space.’
Lampard was also asked if Davide Zappacosta would be leaving before the end of the month
‘That’s not clear yet. Zappacosta is our player. Reece [James] is injured and will potentially be another two or three weeks until he’s back. That’s a decision that will be made as we go on.
‘I’ve been really impressed with Zappacosta’s attitude and quality and how he’s trained. He’s a very good player. We have to make sure we are happy with the squad when the European window shuts.
‘It’ll be a decision for us and Zappa. I want players happy. The professionalism he has shown since he has been here has been great. It will be an ongoing conversation but he’s our player.’