Boss Frank Lampard says Chelsea are reaping the rewards of carefully handling N’Golo Kante’s fitness.
The French midfielder struggled with injury during a stop-start 2019-20 season and his role within the team has come under close scrutiny since.
But he has impressed, both as a holding midfielder – as he was used in starring in the 4-1 win over Sheffield United – and in a more advanced role in the middle of the pitch.
“He’s shown in the last couple of games he is N’Golo Kante,” Lampard said.
“His attributes are incredible. He can play various positions in midfield. He has energy, the ability to win the ball back but also ability on the ball. That is sometimes underrated.
“People always want to talk about him being the defensive midfielder around and he should be in a deeper role, but he can do lots of different roles with massive effect.
“I have made big steps to try and manage his training and games, and making sure we attempt to keep him as fit and ready for games as we can. I’m pleased he is fit now and we will keep managing that.”
Lampard was also pleased by the contribution of Mateo Kovacic, who started in place of Jorginho and shone in a slightly more advanced role ahead of Kante.
“Kova came in and the midfield were great, the driving runs, opening spaces for others,” Lampard said.
“It’s not easy when you’ve missed a few games to come in, but he played very well.
“When you think about our squad this year we have competition, as top teams generally do, and I need players that can lift the level and bring something different.
“That’s hard because every player wants to play all the time.”