Ian Wright pinpointed N’Golo Kante as the Chelsea player who could be the catalyst to overcome Manchester City on Saturday.
Speaking on Premier League Productions, the former Arsenal striker suggested that Kante’s inclusion might swing the tie in Thomas Tuchel’s favour.
The France international is available for the weekend’s potentially epic encounter at the Etihad, having returned from his covid isolation period.
Horay for Kante
He got some wind in his sails during last night’s Carabao Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
The fact Tuchel didn’t bring him on until the 77th minute proves the manager requires his midfielder fresh to face City.
If the Blues are to put a small pin in Pep Guardiola’s title defence, then Kante must be available and at his pioneering best.
Not only that, but Tuchel needs to use the 30-year-old appropriately, where other previous Chelsea coaches have failed.
Wright’s N’Golo novel
“Chelsea could easily let City come onto them. You’ve got Kante, he can break down play and he’s so good progressively with his passing forward,” said Wright.
“He’s so unbelievable at reading and knowing where the danger is.
“He was so phenomenal at that then people think that’s what his main strength is. This is what (Maurizio) Sarri tried to do with him and Frank (Lampard) tried to with him.
“They wanted him to win it higher, but they know that because of the calibre player he is, how good he is with running with the ball, one-touch passing, scoring, they tried to move him forward.
“But then, you think to yourself, why take arguably for me the greatest player I’ve ever seen play that position out of there when he can do everything that he’s doing there?
“He’s going to have to put in those kind of performances against City, because if he does that, they’ve got an unbelievable chance of beating them.”
All pulling in the same directon
Of course, Kante is not the only Chelsea member who has to put on a perfect display in a few days.
Arguably, every component of Tuchel’s machine must be functioning at full capacity against City.
Kepa Arrizabalaga might be in for a busy afternoon, unless the likes of Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger can remain resolute.
Mateo Kovacic has been in fine form recently, yet anyone can be dwarfed by Guardiola’s group.
A goal for Romelu Lukaku would be ideal and rather poetic after he recently admitted that City tried to sign him in 2020.
From front to back, Chelsea have to put on a monumental show if they are to silence the blue half of Manchester.
It’s going to be tough, but not impossible.