France’s World Cup winning midfielder N’Golo Kante is due to return to training with Chelsea after almost a month on the sidelines, said Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.
The manager is counting on the 28-year-old’s return to ease the workload being shared by Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, who both played the full 90 minutes in the 2-1 League Cup fourth round defeat by Manchester United on Wednesday.
Defeat ended Chelsea’s seven match winning streak and Lampard suggested that the setback was due to a shortage of midfield options.
“He (Kante) is hopefully going to join in training in the next two or three days,” said Lampard.
“Hopefully he will be back before the international break.
“I would have liked to have given Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic a rest because of the work they are putting in.
“I couldn’t because of N’Golo, Ross (Barkley), and Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) out long term.”
Should Kante’s groin injury not suffer a reverse he could be fit to play a role in Chelsea’s home match with Crystal Palace on November 10.
N’Golo Kante insists he is finally growing into his new role in Chelsea’s midfield as the France star prepares for Wednesday’s clash with Southampton.
Kante earned a reputation as the world’s best defensive midfielder after playing a key role in Chelsea and Leicester’s Premier League title triumphs, as well as France’s World Cup victory.
But the 27-year-old has had to adapt to a change of position this season under new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.
Sarri, who replaced Antonio Conte in the close-season, brought Jorginho with him from Napoli to play the pivotal midfield role in front of the defence that used to be Kante’s domain.
Sarri believes Jorginho’s superior passing makes him more suited to launching Chelsea’s attacks than Kante, who is now operating in a slightly more advanced role on the right of midfield.
Kante has sometimes looked out of sorts in his different position this season, but he showed signs of getting to grips with it on Sunday, scoring the winner at Crystal Palace with a well-timed run and cool finish.
“This role is something I am enjoying and in a game, I try to make that run sometimes,” Kante said.
“David (Luiz) gave me a good ball and I am happy to score with my left foot and give something to the team.”
Away wins at Watford and Palace made it a happy Christmas for Chelsea.
But with the Blues still trailing 11 points behind leaders Liverpool, their title ambitions have been put on the back burner as they focus on securing a place in next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.
Currently in fourth place — five points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal — Sarri’s side will be expected to consolidate that position against a Southampton team struggling to avoid relegation.
Yet Chelsea shouldn’t be complacent after some inconsistent displays of late, including a surprise 1-0 defeat in their last home match against Leicester.
Work in progress
They could be hampered by fitness problems, with Olivier Giroud, Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi all suffering injuries over Christmas.
Sarri has questioned Chelsea’s mental strength and cutting edge at various times this season and it would be no surprise to see new faces arrive in the January transfer window.
Blues defender David Luiz admits Chelsea are still a work in progress, but he believes Sarri’s philosophy is starting to take hold.
“It’s the connection, training together every day, understanding the philosophy and trying to improve,” Luiz said.
In their first match of 2019, Chelsea are keen to banish the specter of anti-semitic chants from a section of their support after they were criticised for an offensive song about Tottenham fans during recent matches.
Sarri slammed the “stupid” people involved and the club have vowed to take action against the offenders.
The chant has a long history with Chelsea supporters and the issue is complicated by Tottenham fans also singing the offensive word themselves.
Southampton are outside the bottom three only on goal difference after losing successive home matches last week.
They will be without suspended captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at Stamford Bridge after his red card against Manchester City.
“We will miss him, he’s our best midfielder at the club,” Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said.
N’Golo Kante showed signs he is growing into his more advanced midfield role with a composed finish that gave Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri has been criticised for moving Kante out of his more familiar position in front of the back four, with Jorginho filling the holding role.
As a result, Kante’s effectiveness this season has been questioned, but the former Leicester City man impressed as he struck the 51st-minute match-winner that helped the Blues tighten their grip on fourth by opening up a five-point gap to Arsenal.
Kante followed a perfectly timed run to meet David Luiz’s chipped pass with a clinical finish to cap a dominant display by Sarri’s side against London rivals Palace.
Chelsea’s failure to add to Kante’s third league goal of the season will have given Sarri some concern, though, and would have proved costly had Palace substitute Connor Wickham has not skied a late chance over the bar.
The Italian manager reshaped his forward line by including Olivier Giroud as the central striker — a decision that handed Alvaro Morata another reminder of his place in the strikers’ pecking order at Stamford Bridge.
The Spaniard was among the substitutes, while Giroud’s inclusion freed Eden Hazard from his recent duties as a false nine, allowing the Belgium international to return to his more familiar position on the left of the front three.
But despite dominating, particularly in the second half, Chelsea’s chances remained limited.
Hazard quickly made the most of his freedom to drift in from the flank, testing the Palace defence with a number of runs from deep.
The Belgian’s 34th-minute run towards the home penalty area drew a foul from Cheikhou Kouyate and led to the game’s first real opportunity.
Willian’s curling free-kick from 25 yards took a deflection off the defensive wall before clipping the outside of Vicente Guaita’s right-hand post.
The Palace goalkeeper did well to punch the resulting corner clear, but Willian almost caught the Spaniard out with a fierce low shot from distance.
This passage of play suggested Chelsea were beginning to assert themselves but Palace’s belief had clearly been strengthened by their victory at champions Manchester City eight days previously.
The home side appeared happy to concede territory in the hope of hitting Chelsea on the break and it was little surprise the game remained locked in a stalemate at half-time.
It did not take long, however, for Sarri’s side to breach the Palace defence at the start of the second half with Luiz injecting the moment of creativity needed to find a way through.
The center-back was allowed time to pick his pass and his perfectly weighted chip fell into the path of Kante who had made a positive run towards the penalty spot.
The France international controlled the ball on his chest before hitting a left-foot shot that flew wide of Guaita’s dive.
Having dominated long periods of the game before the goal, Chelsea assumed total control after Kante’s opening goal.
Guaita was called to save yet again from Willian after the Brazilian was set up by a clever Hazard backheel before Giroud saw his second effort of the game ruled out for offside.
Wickham’s 89th-minute chance gave Sarri’s side a late scare but this was a comfortable Chelsea win.
Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte said Friday that midfielder N’Golo Kante has trained all week and is showing no ill-effects after passing out briefly in the dressing room last week.
The French midfielder missed Sunday’s match against Premier League leaders Manchester City after the incident, which shocked teammates.
“N’Golo is fine,” Conte said at his pre-match press conference. “He trained the whole week. He’s in good form. He’s fine.
“Last week, on Friday, it was very cold. After the training session he passed out briefly in the dressing room.
“The doctor brought him to have many check-ups, to understand his physical condition. But it was all clear. I think that on Sunday he was well, but at the same time it was right not to take a risk, to give him the opportunity not to play and to rest. He’s OK. Every check-up is OK, it is perfect.”
Conte said he had the option of playing either Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata up front against struggling Crystal Palace on Saturday. Neither started against City.
“I trust them both and for sure I’m working with them both to bring them in the best physical form and best condition,” he said.
“Morata is coming (back) from a strange injury in his back. He was for a long time out. Giroud is in good form now, is working very well, is working every day and is in good physical condition. I trust a lot in all my players.”
Asked about his team’s confidence after four defeats in their past five Premier League matches, the Italian replied: “For sure, when you lose many games in a row it’s not simple.
“We have to regret the games against Bournemouth, Watford, (Manchester) United. When you play against City there is the possibility to lose the game. Our confidence is normal. We are working very well as always.”
Conte said David Luiz and Ross Barkley were injured and he had to “check a couple of situations”, without going into further detail.
Chelsea midfielder, N’Golo Kante, says winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award is a great honour.
The Frenchman told his club’s website that to be chosen as the player of the year means the world to him.
He was named on Sunday night ahead of his Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard, who was second in the voting, as well as Romelu Lukaku, Harry Kane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexis Sanchez, at awards ceremony in London.
Also, Tottenham’s Dele Alli bagged the PFA Young Player of the Year award for the second successive year, while Manchester City’s Lucy Bronze won the PFA Women’s Player of the Year award.
Former England Captain, David Beckham received the PFA Merit Award for his contribution to the game.
Former Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho was humiliated on his return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues thrashed Manchester United 4-0.
The Blues led after just 30 seconds when Pedro capitalised on slack defending. Smalling hesitated as a long ball flew in, De Gea charged out and Pedro stole in to whip the ball round the ‘keeper into an empty net for what is now the fastest goal of the season.
The evening got worse for Jose Mourinho 20 minutes later. From a corner, the ball broke to Gary Cahill six yards out and he volleyed high into the net past De Gea.
United offered little sign of making a comeback after failing to capitalise on their good spell in the second half and they fell further behind when Eden Hazard drilled in a precise 15-yard strike to make it 3-0.
It was no way back at this point for the Reds. N’golo Kante sealed victory with a stunning goal; his first for Chelsea.
He took the ball after a clever flick from Pedro, brilliantly dribling past Chris Smalling and then rolled sublimely into the corner past David de Gea.
Chelsea with the victory, moved within a point of English Premier League leaders Manchester City who had earlier played a 1-1 draw with Southampton at the Etihad Stadium.
Leicester City players, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy have dedicated their English football’s PFA awards to their teammates.
Mahrez, who is an Algerian, becomes the first African player to win a Professional Footballers Association (PFA) players award.
The Leicester City winger beat teammate, Vardy, Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil to clinch the award.
Scoring 17 goals with 11 assists, Mahrez has been one of the main reasons behind Leicester’s phenomenal rise to the top of the English Premier League, sitting eight points clear with three games remaining.
Vardy, who has 22 goals for the league leaders was also honoured by the PFA for becoming the first player to score in 11 consecutive premier league matches earlier this season.
Meanwhile, Leicester City fans in Thailand are confident the team would lift their first league title this season.
Hundreds of blue-shirted Thai fans watched the league leaders’ 4-0 win over Swansea City on live screens in Bangkok.
The fans believed it was time to do the unthinkable in their club history.