Who should start for Chelsea next to Kante?

Written by Alex Honcoop

Since his arrival from Leicester in the summer, N’Golo Kante has started in every single League match. Other than a small spell against Liverpool and Arsenal, the Frenchman has been superb. His spot in central midfield hasn’t been disputed by almost anyone but the role next to him, has been disputed.

For the first six games of the campaign, Antonio Conte played a 4-1-4-1 formation which had a midfield three of Kante, Matic and Oscar which worked reasonably well but the entire formation had little faults so Conte changed it. Since moving to a 3-4-3, Kante and Matic have started every game that they’ve been fully fit for. Personally, I think that starting both Matic and Kante is too defensive especially against less attacking sides.

 For that reason, I would be starting Cesc Fabregas tomorrow if I was Antonio Conte. Although he is definitely past his best, his passing range is a vital asset to any team. Against Man City last weekend, the Spaniard played two defence splitting passes. One of which ended in a goal for Diego Costa which bought Chelsea level on the hour mark.

Although he is unavailable for selection at the minute, I think that Oscar is also a viable option to start next to Kante. Although not great in the tackle, going forward Oscar can bring that little bit extra that could help to break down tightly compact defences such as West Brom’s. If he was available, I think he would’ve been the best option to start next to Kante for the game at the weekend.



credit Aleksandr Osipov

 In Man City’s 3-4-3 which they played against Chelsea, Ilkay Gundogan is one of two who played in central midfield. Oscar and Gundogan are fairly similar players so I don’t see why Oscar shouldn’t be in with a shout of starting against the likes of Sunderland and Stoke who Chelsea play in their next five matches.

 Nathaniel Chalobah should also be considered for a starting position. The 21-year-old has been well known amongst Football fans for a few years now given an impressive loan spell at Watford a few years ago. The Sierra Leone born midfielder possesses similar qualities to that of Paul Pogba and Moussa Dembele, two players who I think would be the perfect player starting next to Kante.

 As he is only 21, he simply has to get game time soon before he wants to leave for regular Football. Chelsea really need to be conscious of not making the same mistake they made with Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. If they do decide to sell him, it is vital they put a buy-back clause in the offer. If they don’t, they could do something similar to what Manchester United did and be forced to spend a lot of money to lure him back to the Bridge if he develops into a world class player which I think he will.

Although he has been in brilliant form of recent, I still don’t think that Matic should be starting on a regular basis. I feel that Chelsea should play Matic against sides with quality going forwards (Liverpool, Arsenal, City and Tottenham) but not against sides that will sit back and defend like Middlesbrough and West Brom. With Chelsea facing the Baggies on Sunday, I think that Conte should start either Fabregas or Chalobah.

What do you think Chelsea fans? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by Ben Sutherland