Leicester City, in what looks like a precarious position in 16th in the Premier League and just 3 points off the relegation places, are suffering and with pretty much the same set of players. So how come? The Foxes are comfortably through to the last 16 of the champions league and have seemingly prioritised the competition ahead of the league campaign. Now whether this is right or wrong is a discussion for another day but the point I am going to make is to some an obvious one.
N’golo Kanté was pivotal in Leicester winning their first and only Premier League title, the defensive midfielder arrived from French side Caen in early 2015 and got off to an unsteady start before earning rave reviews every week for shutting out the opposition and disrupting attacks . His breaking up of play became a massive part of what Leicester were doing and with Danny Drinkwater beside him the pair were invaluable. Kante played most of that season in a 4-2-2-2 see below
Or a 4-2-3-1 and as it showed, worked very well and now since his summer transfer to Chelsea for £38 million he looks like a common day Claude Makele, tackling, breaking up play as he did at Leicester and also has become a better passer of the ball and even getting himself into goal scoring positions as part of Antonio Conte’s favoured 3-4-3.
Chelsea’s lineup with Kanté
With the 3-4-3 at Chelsea, Kanté has that bit more freedom due to Matic who prefers to defend, and also because Moses and Fabregas or more commonly Marcos Alonso are more than able to get up and down the flanks for covering duties if Kanté or Matic are upfield. This has opened up more parts to Kantés footballing prowess and will surely see Chelsea be even harder to break down. As for Leicester, in my view this is a major reason why they are conceding to many goals. In the title winning season they lost (in the premier league) only 3 games conceding 35 goals. But in this season so far they have already lost 9 games conceding 31 goals, a massive turn around. Is this all down to the departure of Kanté? Probably not but it is a massive factor and although Ranieri has tried to replace him with Daniel Amartey it doesn’t look like the Ghanian can produce the kind of form that has seen Kanté make it into the French national team.