'Couldn't haven't been fully fit': Pat Nevin thinks he saw sign that Chelsea star is still carrying an injury last night
Pat Nevin noticed something during the clash between Chelsea and Everton that suggested N’Golo Kante has not yet recovered from injury.
Speaking on BBC Sport after the 1-1 Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge yesterday, Nevin pointed towards Kante’s fitness as the reason he wasn’t used by Thomas Tuchel.
The France international returned to the bench for the first time since sustaining a knee problem at home to Juventus last month.
He missed five matches before reclaiming his substitution spot, each performance from the Blues arguably less convincing than the next.
Chelsea have been crying out for their mini-midfielder throughout this rotten run, a period that’s now produced just two wins from six outings.
Tuchel managed to reinstall the 30-year-old to the matchday squad last night, but decided against throwing him into the fire straight away.
“Kante, strangely enough tonight, clearly the man that was needed, he was on the bench. Wasn’t brought on, so he couldn’t have been fully fit,” claimed Nevin.
A night for N’Golo?
Tuchel’s men once again suffered in the absence of their Parisian prince.
His side squandered several good chances against an Everton team who were stripped to the bare bones in terms of available personal.
They lacked a cut-throat efficiency in front of goal and any sort of impetus from central midfield.
An area that the Blues have struggled with during the omissions of Kante and Mateo Kovacic.
“Yeah, they had 80% possession today but it didn’t seem structured. It didn’t seem they were controlling it in a way that was going to be dangerous,” continued Nevin about his former club.
“Whereas, you watch the driving you get from Kovacic and the driving you get from Kante as well and the skills from his as well.
“So, they’ve been absolutely dependent for a long time on two of those three being in that central area.
“They’ve sometimes had none of them and some of the time had one, being Jorginho, and he’s not been fully fit.
“So, if I was to say, watching all those games as I do, that’s the problem. They need to get that sorted out.”
Jorginho played alongside Ruben Loftus-Cheek for the fourth time in five league fixtures, having not started together since the first day of the 2020/21 campaign.
It is a partnership that clearly still needs refining.
Unfortunately, time is really is not in Chelsea’s corner right now.
Points need to start being picked up immediately, otherwise, they will be left in Liverpool and Manchester City’s wake.
Getting Kovacic and Kante back up to speed is the priority, yet that won’t happen overnight.
Right now, it’s a frustrating moment to be a fan of the Blues.