N’Golo Kante says he is enjoying his new attacking role after scoring the only goal in Chelsea’s hard-fought 1-0 victory at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
The Frenchman has been forced to adapt to an offensive position on the right of Maurizio Sarri’s midfield three this season, rather than the central defensive role in which he became one of the world’s best.
Sarri has drawn plenty of criticism for the decision, designed mainly to accommodate summer signing Jorginho, but it paid dividends at Selhurst Park as Kante’s darting run and clever finish proved the difference.
And speaking after the game, Kante told Chelsea’s official website: “[This role] is something I am enjoying and in a game I try to make that run sometimes.
“David [Luiz] gave me a good ball and I am happy to score with my left foot and give something to the team.
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“Crystal Palace had a great game defensively, but we kept the pressure on, kept the ball and were happy to score in the second half. It was very difficult at the end of the game but we were able to fight and get the win.”
Kante’s three goals this season is already his best tally in a Premier League season. In fact, it took him 106 league games to score his previous three.
Nonetheless, while Sarri was full of praise for the 27-year-old, the Blues boss insists his main priority should be defence.
He said: “He has to think about the defence first of all. Then he is improving, especially in movements without the ball. His movement today was really very good and was done with the right timing.
“When we have to play against opponents who are very low, it’s difficult for the striker and wingers to find space. So for us the midfielders’ movement without the ball is very important.
“Now we have to work on [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek and on [Ross] Barkley. Loftus-Cheek especially is a great player with the ball, but he can improve a lot in his movement without the ball.”