'What he did': Alan Shearer says £30m Chelsea man was the missing link vs Tottenham
Alan Shearer highlighted how N’Golo Kante’s introduction at half-time against Tottenham Hotspur altered the version of events for Chelsea.
Speaking on Match of the Day 2 last night, Shearer saved most of his positive analysis for the Frenchman’s 45-minute exhibition.
And rightly so.
Kante was the catalyst for Chelsea’s 3-0 scalping of Spurs, with all three goals arriving when he was on the field.
Thomas Tuchel recognised his side were struggling to penetrate Tottenham’s defence, so decided to bring on the £30m (BBC) World Cup winner at the break.
Managers aren’t merited enough for their substitutions – often because they fail to make an impact – but this change deserved all the credit.
Chelsea were able to move through the gears thanks to having a new driver at the wheel.
Thiago Silva’s header was quickly followed up by Kante’s deflected strike, before Antonio Rudiger powered home the third late on.
A job well done in the capital, one that was made a lot easier by a certain mini-midfielder.
Shearer’s pick of the Blues bunch
“He (Kante) brought an energy to that Chelsea team that was missing in the first half,” explained Shearer.
“Well done to Tuchel for spotting that at half time.
“What he did was, he enabled those two players – (Cesar) Azpilicueta and (Marcos) Alonso – to get much further, higher up the park and Tottenham really couldn’t cope with the energy he brought into the team.
“He gave them a little bit of protection. It wasn’t all about him sitting in front of that back four.
“He offered them something going forward, because he got the goal as well.
“They could press a lot higher because of what he gave them also. Did his bit defensively as well.”
Sunday’s deconstruction of Spurs was Kante’s first appearance since the international break got underway.
An ankle problem forced the 30-year-old off at the interval against Liverpool, the same problem that made him miss each of France’s World Cup qualifying fixtures.
He was then absent for the Aston Villa and Zenit St Petersburg victories; some feared his kryptonite had finally been discovered.
Those doubts were banished yesterday as Kante rolled back the years, to Tottenham’s downfall.
Tuchel will have certainly welcomed back the Parisian prince with welcome arms.
Not only because of his unrivalled qualities, but the fact Chelsea can now call upon another option during the ferocious fixture schedule.
A visit from Aston Villa in the League Cup on Wednesday awaits, then Manchester City travel to Stamford Bridge three days later.