Following Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Manchester City, Guardian’s Barney Ronay argues that the Frenchman is starting to grow into his new position at Stamford Bridge.
Always giving his best
“On the evidence of a bruising, thrilling night at Stamford Bridge, Sarri’s attempts to transform the best covering midfielder in the world into a withdrawn right-sider may or may not succeed. But it won’t be for want of manically committed effort from the man himself, who provided a lesson in making a plan work, even when that plan seems to push you to the fringes.”
“The Frenchman’s goal was Chelsea’s first shot on target. It was also Kante’s most assured touch of a half that had seen him reduced to a frantic figure at the edge of things. Kante had been dispossessed four times. He had skittered about wildly in search of a space to fill, a tackle to make. He had completed nine passes. And yet, as ever he had just kept on coming.”
Times are changing
“There has already been a great deal of harrumphing about Sarri’s attempts to play Kante in a slightly different role, replacing him in the centre with the more ponderous, more artful Jorginho. Understandably so. Kante has been a darling of the Premier League, where his spidey-sense for interceptions and brilliance in the clinches have fitted the tempo and texture of the game so well.”
“Manchester City were still sublime on the ball but Sarri’s plan to hold a deep line and hustle hard kept them at arm’s length. Meanwhile Kante showed that every plan can be made to work with a little willing; a player who remains the most generous of professionals, a lesson in willing, warrior spirit and pure footballing intelligence.”