N’Golo Kante’s season is the last to go under the microscope in our feature bringing you up to speed with how the campaign had gone for each of our players prior to lockdown.
The midfielder has had a stop-start time of things under Frank Lampard because of injury, but remains supremely influential when he is on the pitch…
N’Golo Kante: 22 appearances (two as a sub), three goals
‘We obviously need N’Golo Kante in our team, one of the best players in the world. I knew that before becoming manager of Chelsea, I know that from working with him. We unfortunately haven’t been able to have him much this year, but going forward we want him fit and ready to go.’
For each of N’Golo Kante’s first three seasons in west London, he barely missed a match. In fact, prior to the hamstring problem he picked up towards the end of last term, Kante had only had one spell out injured, a few games in October 2017.
Unfortunately for Kante and Chelsea, ankle, groin and abductor issues have affected his involvement in the current campaign. He missed a good chunk of pre-season while continuing to recover from the hamstring injury that he played through in Baku. Having come off the bench on the opening day at Old Trafford, the Frenchman returned to the starting XI for the Super Cup final and produced a superb 120-minute performance Lampard described as like a ‘machine’.
He sprained his ankle in training after our next game, a draw with his former club Leicester, but was back in the side a month later, marking his return with an exquisite finish against Liverpool at the Bridge.
He scored again in his next league outing, at Southampton, and then came the October international break and more injury issues, this time with his groin. He was out for another month, returning for the victory over Crystal Palace on 9 November.
Lampard has chosen to mostly deploy Kante in the right-sided midfield spot he occupied for 2018/19, and it was with a timely run from that position he opened the scoring away to Manchester City with a really clever left-footed finish.
‘When people say he’s the best defensive midfielder in the world, I don’t think that’s the full story,’ Lampard said of Kante in November
‘There’s much more to his game than that. A defensive player in my mind is someone who sits in front of the back four, or back three. He has got much more than that, and he has shown all of those assets over the last four years, whoever he’s been playing for.’
Despite Kante’s fine goal at the Etihad, the hosts came back to win, and it precipitated an iffy spell for the Blues, with just four wins in our next 13 league outings. Kante was at least fit enough to be involved in 12 of those, including the full 90 in away wins at Tottenham and Arsenal when his energy and control were key.
However, he suffered a further setback early on in our home defeat to Man United after the winter break, an abductor injury Lampard said ‘didn’t look good’. It was his last involvement before lockdown, and the time off has given him a chance to recuperate fully.
Kante decided not to return to group training immediately, but was back with the group earlier this month and has been involved in our warm-up matches ahead of the first fixture today against Aston Villa. A strong conclusion to the season from one of the world’s best midfielders will go a long way to helping Chelsea secure a top-four finish.
N'Golo Kante's 2019/20 Premier League stats
Click here to read the other editions of our Season So Far player review series.
N'Golo Kante stats
N'Golo Kante Premier League appearances 2019/20
N'Golo Kante has played 18 times in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, twice coming off the bench.
N'Golo Kante Champions League appearances 2019/20
N'Golo Kante has played three times in the Champions League so far this season, all in the group stage.
N'Golo Kante FA Cup appearances 2019/20
N'Golo Kante has not played in the FA Cup this season.
N'Golo Kante Carabao Cup appearances 2019/20
N'Golo Kante did not play in the Carabao Cup this season.
N'Golo Kante goals 2019/20
N'Golo Kante has scored three goals this season, against Liverpool, Southampton and Manchester City in the Premier League.