Pat Nevin said Chelsea lost the midfield battle in the 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday and believes N’Golo Kante’s not being fully fit played a big part in it.
It is safe to say that the visitors were even unlucky not to get away with a bigger victory at Stamford Bridge.
Not only that they dominated the possession of the ball for the majority of the game, but they also stopped Chelsea from having any shot on target in 90 minutes.
Thomas Tuchel, who decided to start three midfielders, certainly did not expect that Pep Guardiola’s men would have that much control in midfield.
Nevin thinks Guardiola’s bold decision to essentially use his two centre-backs Aymeric Laporte and Ruben Dias to deal with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner gave his team numerical advantages in other areas of the pitch.
That, and Chelsea’s not having their midfield engine at his best as well, he argued.
“When you go 2v2 at the back, they can flood the midfield, and they won the midfield,” the former Chelsea winger told the club’s post-match Matchday Live programme.
“That’s why our midfield was overrun.
“And I’m not sure that N’Golo was fit. That was a long, long way from N’Golo we’re used to.
“I can only see that as him not being 100 percent fit.”
Tuchel might have realised that when he decided to replace Kante with Kai Havertz in the second half.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to turn the tide.
The visitors just had too much control of the game at that point, and the Blues just could not create any big goalscoring chance.
To put it into perspective, Lukaku had just 21 touches, the least of any player to play 90 minutes in the game.
Update: Tuchel confirmed to Chelsea TV that Kante was “a bit ill” but eventually decided to play him anyway.