Thomas Tuchel handed first Premier League starts under his tenure to Kurt Zouma and N’Golo Kante this weekend and the Chelsea head coach was left mightily impressed with what he saw from the French pair.
Our German head coach has spoken on many occasions about his admiration for Kante, a player he has admitted trying to sign for PSG during his time in charge of the French giants, and is excited to work with the former Leicester man day in, day out at Chelsea.
While Kante has featured regularly from the bench under Tuchel as he works his way back to full fitness, Kurt Zouma has played less frequently than he did under previous boss, Frank Lampard.
The Frenchman has slipped behind Toni Rudiger and Andreas Christensen in the pecking order in recent weeks, while Cesar Azpilicueta has been a regular in a three-man defence. Zouma, however, did get the nod to start alongside the skipper and Rudiger against Southampton on Saturday and Tuchel was pleased with what he saw from our No.15.
‘It is a process and I’ve learnt a lot of positives about Zouma,’ explained our head coach, when referring to his selection policy. ‘I was very happy with Kurt’s performance.
‘We decided very late to put him on the pitch but he put in a very good game. I thought he was solid, he was a presence back there and he was very clear in his actions. He performed his role at a top level, which pleased me.’
Kante’s stunning performance at the heart of the Chelsea midfield was less of an unknown for Tuchel and the German believes the midfielder’s ability to steal possession for the Blues is something we should look to utilise more often.
‘With N’Golo, I saw how well he’s been playing in training and of course I’ve known about him for many years,’ added Tuchel. ‘I’m very happy now that I am his coach and I have the chance to work with him every day.
‘This guy, wow. He steals every ball that is around 10 metres. We need to use these balls better, when N’Golo steals and wins possession for us, we need to react quicker and use these to our advantage. We need to attack the space behind the last line better and we need to use our speed better to create more chances.
‘I’ve learnt many things and as I said earlier, it is a process. I’m seeing more and more of my squad and where we can improve. But specifically on N’Golo and Kurt, I’m very happy with them.’