Tag Archives: N’Golo Kante

Three vital contests as Chelsea look to complete double

Chelsea and Arsenal have not met in an FA Cup final since 2002. The Gunners were victorious that day, with each club having enjoyed numerous Wembley successes since. Didier Drogba has dominated this fixture in the 2000s, but the Ivorian is now no more than a nightmare for Arsenal.

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are Premier League champions and are shooting for a double on Saturday. Arsenal, meanwhile, remain a club on the cusp of turmoil. Stan Kroenke is a man criticised frequently, Arsene Wenger’s future is unknown and key players are yet to sign on the dotted line.

With defenders missing and off the back of an underwhelming campaign, Arsenal are underdogs. Strong underdogs at that, too, with Wenger a man splitting opinion. Everything can change under the arch, and Arsenal have a good recent record at Wembley, but Chelsea are a fearsome unit led by a manager a driven as anyone in the game.

The man-to-man duels could decide this encounter. We don’t want controversy, we don’t want it to be decided on a foolish red card, we want a classic final showdown. These three matchups will be crucial if that is to happen…

Chelsea’s Italian Love Affair Destined To Continue At Wembley

Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto di Matteo and Antonio Conte. Chelsea adore Italians.

Roman Abramovich flitted with Barcelona imitation, but when that fell short, the Italian norm returned. Vialli was widely admired, Ranieri loved as the nicest man in the sport, Ancelotti brought dazzling football and a double, Di Matteo finally delivered that elusive Champions League and now Conte could produce a double of his own.

Chelsea have only won one double in their 112 year history. Ancelotti’s team in 2010 scored more goals than anyone has done in the Premier League era and entertained throughout as they teamed power with exceptional talent. Irrepressible at times, that team is one of the best in recent memory. It was a joy to watch as stalwarts Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard were accompanied by a magnificent Florent Malouda, graceful Nicolas Anelka and destructive Michael Ballack. They wrapped up their title with an 8-0 final day destruction of Wigan. Fitting.

Saturday evening brings Conte’s chance to emulate his journeyman compatriot in completing a debut season double. Conte’s would be all the more remarkable.

Chelsea finished 10th last season, they were abysmal despite being reigning champions and were a club in turmoil once again. Players were almost universally unrecognisable, controversy rumbled and they were once again being led by a caretaker manager. When Jose Mourinho joined Manchester United, Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City and Conte signed at Stamford Bridge, even a top four finish would have been deemed a stellar campaign.

Fans split over Mourinho’s departure, fans bickered over the role of the players in the sacking of their greatest ever manager. Everything looked bleak.

Then followed a summer transfer window dominated by the pursuit of Kalidou Koulibaly. Left-back was still an issue, and no one knew whether Eden Hazard and Diego Costa in particular would return to their dominant form of 2014/15. The window ended with Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso, N’golo Kante and David Luiz arriving at Stamford Bridge.

Alonso suffered from the Premier League centric thinking that costs English football, Luiz’s harsh reputation went before him, Batshuayi’s price tag sat heavily on his shoulders and Kante’s brilliance at Leicester was yet to be truly accepted. Alonso, Luiz and Kante set about becoming crucial players in a Chelsea team that equalled the league’s consecutive wins record and notched 93 points. Batshuayi was a threat when called upon, but remained on the bench for the most part as Costa’s lack of injuries surprised us all.

Conte glued together a fractured squad, he showed tactical adaptability and reinvigorated careers. It should not be a surprise after a quick glance at his glorious CV, but the Italian picked up a club from the doldrums and charged to an emphatic title.

We may never know quite what happened at Chelsea in 2015/16. Conte, though, found a way to make sure it was a freak blip rather than a startling regression towards upper mid-table suffering. Chelsea could have gone the way of Liverpool and post-Ferguson Manchester United, it was down to Conte that they did not.

Their league dominance makes them clear favourites on Saturday. Fairly so, but it also takes the pressure off. Whatever happens under the arch, Chelsea have had a season far beyond the most optimistic of predictions.

Abramovich craved Chelsea recreating Guardiola’s Barcelona, but the Italian way has so often been the way for the Blues.

4 New Signings: The Potential Chelsea XI To Conquer Europe Next Year

Chelsea have enjoyed a fantastic season this term but Antonio Conte’s side face a challenge in the summer to bolster their ranks and prepare for a return to the Champions League next season.

In truth, Chelsea’s squad depth is fairly lacklustre across the board and injury problems this term could have created havoc, had they occurred. Therefore, it would be unwise to run the same risks next season by failing to strengthen.

Whilst Chelsea have been defensively solid and impressive in attack, it turns out that those areas are where the Blues are keen to strengthen most this summer- with star striker Diego Costa looking inevitable to leave, whilst veteran skipper John Terry is also on his way out.

Conte has identified targets already though and these four signings could leave the Blues boasting an exceptional side, as shown by this incredible line-up.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea’s goalkeeper is widely regarded to be one of the best in the world and the Blues will face a battle to retain his services in the summer, with Spanish giants Real Madrid reportedly eyeing the Belgian as an alternative to long-term target David De Gea.

Courtois seems loyal to Chelsea though and the Blues would command an audacious fee for any move to materialise, so it seems highly likely that the goalkeeper will remain at Stamford Bridge for the forthcoming Premier League campaign.

Fabregas In, Matic Out: The Chelsea XI To Dent Man United’s Champions League Hopes

Chelsea are on-course for Premier League glory but can hand a huge blow to rivals Manchester United this weekend with a victory. Here, we’ve selected the team Antonio Conte should select to win the match.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea’s Belgian stopper has been a mainstay in Antonio Conte’s side throughout the season, starting all 31 Premier League fixtures for the Blues. During that time, Chelsea have kept 13 clean sheets- the highest amount in the division.

The Blues have also conceded just 25 goals in the Premier League, a number only Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United can better, and Courtois has been vastly important to Chelsea’s solid defensive structure.

The game is being shown live on Sky Sports on Sunday afternoon (4pm kick-off UK time) and you can get a NowTV day pass and watch the game for just £6.29 with our fantastic 10% off a day pass offer.

FF Premier League Team Of The Season: 4 Chelsea, 2 Spurs, 2 Liverpool & 2 Burnley Players Feature

We’re at that stage of the season now when we recognise the achievements of those we see week in, week out, with the PFA’s nominations for PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year kicking off the debates.

Along with it comes the often much-maligned Team of the Season that, in response, has streams of fans drafting up their own all-star XI. Many are flying about as we speak, which prompts us to give our two cents. Here’s Fresh Football’s Premier League Team of the Season:

Goalkeeper: Tom Heaton, Burnley

It’s on the basis of defensive solidity that Sean Dyche’s side has planned and, more or less, managed to crack their first season back in the Premier League. Tom Heaton’s heroics in between the sticks have certainly played a part in that.

The two-time England international, more fondly remembered for his displays against Liverpool at home and versus Manchester United at Old Trafford, comes 6th in the ongoing race for the Golden Glove, claiming nine clean sheets altogether.

That has seen him top the list of keepers in the bottom half of the table, which, unlike other lauded colleagues such as Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford, has contributed towards Burnley’s mid-table attainment and facilitated our choice for number one.

Right Back: Kyle Walker, Tottenham Hotspur

Among the tightest of choices throughout the XI, the right back slot sees the likes of Kyle Walker go head-to-head with Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, who’s gone from strength-to-strength under José Mourinho this season.

But for all the improvement from the Ecuadorian, Walker has continued to be a pivotal figure in a side targeting a top two finish, as opposed to scrambling for top four.

The Spurs man pips Valencia on end product, claiming two more assists than Valencia’s modest three, and also averaging 1.15 key passes and 1.33 chances created per game, which is marginally better than his full back counterpart.

Centre Back: David Luiz, Chelsea

Many a critic scoffed at the £30 million spent by Chelsea on the club’s former cult hero, with displays up until early October suggesting they were right to do so. In came Antonio Conte’s characteristic shift to a formation with three central defenders, signalling a straight run for top spot and David Luiz’s rebirth, as a result.

Free to explore his refined technical ability with the comfort of two other centre backs either side of him, Luiz’s maturity has also shun through in a side that’s collected 13 clean sheets thus far and strung together 13 consecutive wins from October to January.

Centre Back: Michael Keane, Burnley

We’ve spoken briefly of the work put in by Burnley in this season’s Premier League and just as focal to the Clarets’ success has been Michael Keane, a mainstay alongside Ben Mee in Dyche’s XI.

The centre back pairing have been virtually inseparable statistically, but the man under the radar has appeared as Burnley’s go-to-guy for defensive interactions, conquering 120 of his aerial duels and winning 60% of all duels in total, which is a 5% increase on what Mee registered.

Such has been his form that the Man United academy graduate has seen his trade recognised by England with his debut cap, meanwhile the likes of Everton reportedly plot a move for the 24-year-old in the summer.

Left Back: Marcos Alonso, Chelsea

Costing the champions-elect a total of £20 million from Fiorentina this summer, Marcos Alonso has done a decent job in allaying fears of his perceived sub-par status in world football.

The Spaniard prides himself on the time he’s spent in Serie A, which bodes well with Conte’s familiarities, whereas the player’s core attributes have seen him become a straight fit into Chelsea’s 3-4-3 formation at wing back.

Five goals and two assists later for the Blues, few left backs in the league have come close to his level of consistency.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo Kanté, Chelsea

To make complete simplicity so hard to ignore takes some doing, yet N’Golo Kanté is already on his second consecutive season of leaving his critics in awe.

No sign of second season syndrome here, with the Frenchman providing a pivotal presence in Chelsea’s two-man midfield and eating up more ground than one could ever deem possible. An easy choice.

Centre Midfield: Adam Lallana, Liverpool

Under the core definition of a central midfielder, there’s a small number of options they may be more popular throughout the masses, but we’re striving to also conjure up a team that also makes some sort of footballing sense.

Adam Lallana is no scrub, however. The Englishman took his time to get going at Anfield, but he’s been among the players to have embraced Jürgen Klopp’s ethos the best in a mixed season for the Reds.

The England international has maintained a high level of performances throughout this season, contributing at both ends of the field, which sees us favour the ex-Southampton midfielder over the likes of Vincent Wanyama, David Silva and a more attacking iteration of Dele Alli, who’ve all hooked in their fair share of plaudits through central areas.

Left Midfielder: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

After a faint 2015/16 campaign, Eden Hazard has remerged as a top bracket Premier League star under Conte, making full use of the free role given to him in a 3-4-3 set-up. The Belgian is a hot favourite for the PFA Player of the Year award, which speaks volumes of our choice.

With seven games of the season to go, Hazard has already equalled his highest scoring seasons of 2013/14 and 2014/15 with 14 goals, three shy of the club’s regular goal-getter Diego Costa, after finding the back of the net against the likes of Man United, Manchester City and Arsenal this season.

Whispers of a switch to Real Madrid have followed suit, which is yet another testament to the qualities displayed by the re-energised Belgian.

Right Midfielder: Sadio Mané, Liverpool

Alongside Chelsea’s N’Golo Kanté, Sadio Mané leads the line for signing of the season since arriving for £34 million from Southampton.

Fully engaged with Klopp’s ‘Gegenpressing’, the Senegalese winger has hit the back of the net 13 times and turned in a further six assists, numbers that aren’t too dissimilar to that of Eden Hazard’s. It’s no wonder many were left arguing for the Liverpool man’s presence in the six-man shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Thus far, Liverpool’s dependency on Mané has been clear, winning just twice in eight games without their summer signing, which includes defeating League Two outfit Plymouth Argyle. Such is the importance he holds that the wide man is far too difficult to overlook, even with Alexis Sanchez and Nathan Redmond presenting stellar seasons of their own in the meantime.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku, Everton

He’s a striker that often divides opinion, but time and time again Romelu Lukaku finds himself among a hatful of goals.

The Belgian’s technical ability, although appearing more refined this season, is some way off your traditional top class striker, but his laudable ability to strike gold with frequency may well see the Everton forward claim this season’s Golden Boot.

It’s a feat that can’t be ignored, giving him the edge over Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and many more favoured strikers.

Striker: Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur

If there’s one player who knows just how to time an appeal for all relevant gongs, that man is Harry Kane. The England international, rather characteristically, started the season slowly with just five non-penalty goals in the first half of the season.

Fast-forward four months and that figure has doubled in his favour, culminating in a late charge to defend his Golden Boot award with 19 goals at this stage of the season.

No period displayed Kane’s string of exemplary performances quite as well as February, scoring six in four games before crowning his work with the Player of the Month award. It’s because of this and many more performances since the turn of the year that Kane has battled his way into our Team of the Year.

 

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Batshuayi in, Costa out: The Chelsea XI To Beat Man City On Wednesday

Chelsea surge towards Premier League glory was halted by Crystal Palace at the weekend and there’s a real danger that they could concede their advantage in the league standings over the coming weeks.

The Blues hold a seven point advantage over Tottenham Hotspur heading into the midweek Premier League fixtures and that could be cut to just four points by the end of play tomorrow, should Chelsea lose to Manchester City and Spurs beat Swansea.

Antonio Conte’s side need to treat the defeat to Crystal Palace as a wake-up call and make sufficient alterations to their side as a result, to ensure the squad is kept fresh and, crucially, doesn’t get complacent as we approach the latter end of the season.

With a few tweaks to the side that lost to Palace at the weekend, Chelsea can return to winning ways against Pep Guardiola’s side. Here, we’ve selected the ideal XI to tackle the Citizens.

GK: Thibaut Courtois

The Belgian goalkeeper has been an ever-present figure for the Blues this season, playing all 29 games of the Blues charge to the top of the Premier League. During that time, he’s conceded just 23 goals- a number only Tottenham Hotspur (21) can better.

With 13 clean-sheets, the highest in the league, Courtois has been an important member of a Chelsea defence that has been extremely difficult to break down. They’ll need him to be at his best against Manchester City, who have scored 56 goals this season.

All The Player Ratings: Chelsea 1-0 Manchester United

These are Fresh Football’s ratings for the FA Cup Quarter-Final tie between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois – 7

The Belgian came up with a crucial stop in the second period, denying what would have been Manchester United’s equaliser through Marcus Rashford’s left-footed strike at goal.

César Azpilicueta – 6

Impressive at the back, less so going forward.

David Luiz – 7

Luiz was able to boss the circulation of possession, even throughout United’s sharpest spells.

Gary Cahill – 6

Noted as the weak link in Chelsea’s backline, exemplified by the rare surrender of possession in sight of United’s pressing traps, but such pressure was eventually eased on the ex-Bolton Wanderers man.

Victor Moses – 6.5

The former Crystal Palace and Wigan Athletic winger got up and down the flank well, despite it being crowded by a defensive-looking United line-up.

N’Golo Kanté – 8

The man of the match, N’Golo Kanté proved to be the decisive difference between the two FA Cup hopefuls with his goal from range.

Nemanja Matic – 6.5

Positive and tidy in possession, which boded well for Chelsea’s game plan in the second half.

Marcos Alonso – 6.5

Another to put in a decent performance, as his influence on proceedings grew in the second half.

Willian – 7

Sharp, direct and unlucky not to have earned himself a goal and assist along the way.

Eden Hazard – 8

Along with Kanté, Eden Hazard was as expressive as ever in the final third, escaping the aggressive press-traps from Man United and inflicting lasting damage.

Diego Costa – 5.5

This wasn’t the Diego Costa we’ve become accustomed to seeing in recent times, taking the bait when embroiling himself in physical battles with Marcos Rojo and missing a couple of dead-cert goals on another day.

Subs:

Cesc Fabregas – 6

Accentuated Chelsea’s dominance after coming on in the second half.

Kurt Zouma – N/A

Michy Batshuayi – N/A

 

Manchester United

David De Gea – 7.5

The Spaniard was the main reason why Manchester United kept Chelsea away from the lead in the first half, as the Blues dominated proceedings following Ander Herrera’s red card.

Antonio Valencia – 5

Plenty of fouls coming from a man who was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance. Antonio Valencia was a poorer player, as a result.

Phil Jones – 6

The Englishman was fairly sound at pressing higher up the pitch in the early stages, but Eden Hazard and co. soon had his number, as he succumbed to mistimed tackles.

Chris Smalling – 6

Few complaints hang over the centre back’s head as far as the result is concerned, but as a captain, and United boss José Mourinho also joins him in this equation, Chris Smalling perhaps could have done more to prevent his teammates from losing their cool in battle.

Marcos Rojo – 5

Rash and aggressive, Marcos Rojo was another to tread on a fine line with regards to his discipline.

Matteo Darmian – 5.5

Mirroring Phil Jones’ duties in pressing a little higher up the pitch, almost like a fourth centre back, Darmian also collected his fair share of failed attempts.

Ander Herrera – 5

Man United fans may bemoan Michael Oliver’s decision to red card the midfielder in the first half, especially after such a positive impact in the early exchanges, but the visitors should also be disappointed in Herrera’s foolish actions just seconds after the referee’s general warning.

Paul Pogba – 5

Little inspiration came from the French playmaker, in particular after being paired up with Marouane Fellaini.

Ashley Young – 4.5

Totally retracted, whereas Chelsea’s preference to attack down their own left-hand side saw Young come into the picture at a sporadic rate.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 5

Appeared fairly lively in and around the box, but the Armenian star was the one to be hooked early in response to Herrera’s red card.

Marcus Rashford – 5.5

Kept Chelsea on their toes, but the striker will be disappointed to have not finished a very good chance he managed to fashion for himself in the second period.

Subs:

Marouane Fellaini – 4.5

The Belgian never got into the game, much to United’s detriment.

Jesse Lingard – N/A

‘A Machine’ Chelsea Fans Heap Praise Onto This Chelsea Man Following West Ham Win

Chelsea opened up the gap at the top of the table to ten points once again as the league leaders beat West Ham 2-1 on their first Premier League visit to the London Stadium.

West Ham started the match strongly as they looked for Andy Carroll up top, who aimed to cause the Chelsea defence problems all night. However, it was Chelsea who took the lead on 25 minutes. N’Golo Kante nicked the ball to spark a Chelsea counter-attack. Eden Hazard stayed onside before rounding Darren Randolph and slotting into an empty net to give the Blues a first half lead.

The home side failed to create any notable chances before the end of the first half as Chelsea went into the break one goal to the good. It was Chelsea who extended their lead just after the break. Diego Costa couldn’t believe his luck as he was left with a tap-in from a corner to hand Chelsea a two-goal lead.

Antonio Conte brought on Nemanja Matic and pushed Hazard up front alongside Costa to hold onto his lead. He was successful in doing so, but failed to keep a clean sheet as Manuel Lanzini pulled one back just a minute before the full-time whistle.

One player that impressed once again for Chelsea was Kante. The defensive midfielder has turned out to be one of the signings of the season, and put in yet another trademark performance in the Chelsea midfield on Monday night.

One of the areas where Kante has picked up criticism in the past is with his passing. But in this game he managed to impress with a 90% pass success rate. As usual, he was running around blunting the home attack throughout, and he managed 4 tackles and 1 interception in Chelsea’s 2-1 win against a West Ham side that has improved in quality recently.

Kante may have felt hard done by by not being awarded PFA Player of the Year last season, but after (almost certainly) winning back to back titles and being an integral part of both teams, surely Kante will be awarded the best player in the division for this campaign. He’s been phenominally consistent for Chelsea, and on the back of last season, he has shown that he, unlike some other Leicester City players, was not a one season wonder.

Combined XI: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

With yet more points dropped between the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal at the top end of the table, Tottenham Hotspur’s clash at home to Chelsea tonight sets itself up to be of the greatest importance for both sides.

For the Blues, a record 15th consecutive win opens up a nine-point-gap between them and 2nd place Liverpool, whereas a triumph for Spurs over their London rivals not only keeps Manchester United off their backs, but also sees them leapfrog 3rd and 4th placed Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as reducing the distance between themselves and top spot to seven points.

As both sides go toe-to-toe in tonight’s heavyweight encounter, Fresh Football has consulted its bubble of imagination to compile what we think an All-star Chelsea and Spurs combined XI would look like, relative to form. Here’s what we’ve conjured up:

Goalkeeper: Hugo LlorisTottenham Hotspur

There is, without a doubt, very little between Hugo Lloris and Thibaut Courtois, who stand as two of the greatest shot-stoppers in the league, if not, the world.

Both come into the game with envious defensive records; Courtois has 11 clean sheets in the league to Lloris’ seven, but the latter has conceded just one more goal than the Belgian.

Last year was a totally different experience for Courtois, however, under-performing alongside his teammates in a season to forget for Chelsea. At the same time, no Premier League side conceded less than Spurs (and Man United), which is why Lloris takes our number one jersey.

Right Back: Kyle WalkerTottenham Hotspur

As impressive as Victor Moses has been in his new-found right wing back role, there’s the argument that the Nigerian formerly considered “deadwood” would struggle defensively without the added back-up of a third centre back in Antonio Conte’s lauded 3-4-3 system.

Further north in London, there’s few who operate better at right back than Kyle Walker. Blistering pace, coupled with well-built physicality and technical ability sees the Englishman boss the entire right flank more often than not, making him vital to the way Spurs play.

Moreover, Walker already has four assists to his name this season from defence, one more than he managed last season, and so concludes one of the easier decisions we’ve had to make in this line-up.

Centre Back: Toby AlderweireldTottenham Hotspur

The Belgian’s transition to English football has been no less than impressive, joining the north London club from Atlético Madrid to steal some of the thunder surrounding his compatriot, Jan Vertonghen, in becoming the main man at the back.

Reliable, refined in possession and a notable aerial threat, Alderweireld combines traits that sees him stand as one of the league best centre halves, therefore taking this spot in our combined XI ahead of the likes of Gary Cahill and John Terry without question.

Centre Back: David LuizChelsea

Many a human welcomed Chelsea’s £30 million signing of David Luiz, a man often synonymous with erratic defending, with smiles and laughter.

In its kindest form, his signing was branded as a complete panic buy in response to Chelsea’s failure to land the likes of Leonardo Bonucci and Kalidou Koulibaly in the summer, but the Brazilian defender and Chelsea fans alike will be sure to be giving some stick back to the numerous critics.

Since the Blues’ tactical reinvention, Luiz has seen the defensive set-up form around himself at the at the heart of the defence, subsequently seeing the 29-year-old go from strength-to-strength in his return to Stamford Bridge.

So much so has been his success with Conte’s tactical shift that he’s now touted as one of the favourites to finish the campaign in the Premier League’s Team of the Season, so it’s only fair that he sits Vertonghen out of this one.

Left Back: César AzpilicuetaChelsea

Much like Kyle Walker, Rose plays a pivotal in Mauricio Pochettino’s high-pressing side, doing so well, but meanwhile the Spurs product excels going forwards, César Azpilicueta comes up trumps going in the opposite direction, hence why he’s played across Chelsea’s backline across the years. The Spaniard gets our vote.

Right Midfield: PedroChelsea

Pedro looked to be on somewhat of a downward spiral in the past couple of seasons, falling out of favour at Barcelona before failing to crack life at Chelsea last season.

Things just abruptly clicked, however, after the Blues’ heavy 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal back in September, with Pedro scoring four goals, including one versus Spurs, and assisting six since the debacle at the Emirates.

With Erik Lamela still out injured and Willian only just now beginning to find his feet in the west Londoners’ new look outfit, Pedro claims his spot.

Centre Midfield: N’Golo KantéChelsea

The first name on the team sheet. By now you will have already heard that N’Golo Kanté picked up more points alone than any other team in the Premier League since joining Leicester City in the summer of 2015. The man is just ridiculous.

Centre Midfield: Mousa DembéléTottenham Hotspur

In the same vein as Kanté, Dembélé is equally crucial to a side hoping to get their hands on the coveted Premier League trophy.

Following recovery from injury in October 2015, Spurs didn’t lose once in his presence. Contrarily, once the Belgian was suspended for his ill-tempered altercation with Diego Costa back in May 2016, Spurs picked up just 12 points from their next 11 league games.

He was, undoubtedly, the cerebral driving force among the high praise solely directed at Dele Alli, Harry Kane, among others, and the aforementioned stars proved to be a lot poorer without Dembélé in the side. An underrated entity.

Left Midfield: Eden HazardChelsea

A shining light in Chelsea’s side, Eden Hazard finally looks to be back to his best in a free role given to him by Conte.

Nine goals and two assists in the league sees the Belgian playmaker spearhead his way as one of the favourites to take the Player of the Year gong, so he’s got his place reserved in our squad.

Striker: Diego CostaChelsea

Rivalling his teammate, Hazard, to Player of the Year award has been Diego Costa, so, again, there was little chance of us leaving him out of this combined XI.

The Brazil-born Spain international has been taken to the next level by Conte, at least from a disciplinary perspective, as the 28-year-old leads the goal-scoring charts with 14 league goals so far.

Striker: Harry KaneTottenham Hotspur

For the second season running, after Euro disappointment, Harry Kane started the season rather tentatively, but alas the constant stream of goals appear to be following the Spurs number 10.

The striker’s brace versus Watford in Tottenham’s 4-1 win saw the Englishman hit double figures in the league for the season, his 59th overall after 100 Premier League games, making him hard to overlook.

‘He’s Miles Better Than Pogba’ Chelsea Fans Delighted With Midfielders Performance vs. Manchester United

Chelsea fans have every reason to be cheerful after their clubs impressive 4-0 win at home to Manchester United on Sunday afternoon. At the heart of the Chelsea team was one player, N’Golo Kante. 

Not only did Kante have a great overall game, but he netted a rare goal, dancing past the United defenders and slotting past De Gea with ease. It was a goal to crown a fabulous performance for the Frenchman.

In Antonio Conte’s early games at the club, Chelsea were struggling to perform and were particularly humiliated at the Emirates Stadium, but since that heavy loss they have reverted to a 3-4-3 formation and since then they have won 3 out of 3 and not conceded a goal. Kante is not the only player who is excelling in this formation, but he is one of many now benefitting from Conte’s shrewd tactical switch.

Before the season started, the only concern about Kante was his lack of playmaking ability. In this game though he completed 88% of his passes. He completed 65 passes in total, that’s more than any other Chelsea player on the day. He attempted 3 long balls and completed 2. Offensively he made 2 key passes and defensively he was as reliable as ever, making 5 interceptions and 2 tackles. In total he was awarded an impressive 8.61 match rating from WhoScored.

Here’s how fans reacted to Kante’s performance on Twitter. The Chelsea fans were pretty pleased as you might imagine. Many opted to compare Kante’s performance to Pogba’s, the former cost less a third of what Pogba did – and after humiliating the United man on the way to scoring the 4th goal, the comparisons were inevitable.

Chelsea will be delighted with how Kante has started his career in London. They probably cannot believe how they managed to sign him from Leicester for so little – especially when they’ve seen today Pogba’s performance, a player who cost so much more. Kante’s impact on a team is very obvious, you can see that by how not only Chelsea are doing well, but how Leicester City are seriously struggling to replace him.

No.1 – Chelsea’s New Midfielder Wins Premier League Signing Of The Summer

We’ve been asking the fans who they think have been the best signings of the summer. This is your list and this, is your number 1. 

Chelsea’s transfer business has not gone too smoothly this summer, with the late addition of David Luiz coming under specific criticism. But people frequently forget one early signing they made, and it looks like an extremely good one. 

Chelsea have been criticised for their transfer activity this summer by many, but it is easy to forget that early in the summer they beat top clubs to the signing of one of last seasons best Premier League players, N’Golo Kante.

The French midfielder was barely rated by anybody this time 12 months ago but as Leicester City shocked the footballing world, Kante was at the heart of it all. Those to watched the Premier League last season will not need to be told about how effective he can be in the midfield. His tireless work rate is his main attribute and that leads to him making endless amounts of interceptions, covering loads of ground, and therefore nullifying the oppositions attacking threat. Because his strengths predominantly rely on his workrate it was silly that many thought he simply be a one season wonder. As long as he maintains peak physical fitness, Kante can continue to thrive in the Premier League and for Chelsea.

Many have questioned whether Kante has technical limitations, but during the European Championships and his early stages with Chelsea, he has displayed a good range of technical ability, and although he is not the most influential in possession and attacking areas he is much more effective than many give him credit for. He is neat and tidy in possession and allows his teams more creative players to do the work in the final third.

The amount of money that Chelsea paid for him is very good value considering he is one of the first names on the team sheet for Conte, and baring in mind the current climate in the market. It is now extremely rare to find a fairly young player who will be a regular in your team for less than £30 million. In signing Kante Chelsea have done just that, and the fans and Conte, mixed summer in terms of transfers, can be very happy with the capture of Kante whom other big clubs including the likes of Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain had also been trying to sign.

Since the days of Claude Makelele and peak Michael Essien, Chelsea have been missing a reliable defensive shield – but in Kante they may have finally found someone to build their midfield around. Many questioned how Kante would manage in the Champions League against the very best players, but considering how effectively he dealt with them at the Euros, Chelsea fans can be confident he will not look out of place at all amongst Europe’s elite when, as expected, the London club return to the competition next season.


The Fresh Football writers verdict: We agree with the fans, it is reported that Kante cost Chelsea in the region of £30million – for a midfielder that was arguably one of the best players in the Premier League last season, that is incredible value, especially when you consider he has only just blossomed and is aged just 25.

Fresh Football Team of the Week: Ft. 3 Arsenal, 2 Chelsea, 1 Man Utd & 1 Liverpool Player

This is the Fresh Football team of the week for Gameweek 3. 

Michel Vorm – Tottenham

Despite Danny Rose’ second half equaliser, Mauricio Pochettino can have Hugo Lloris’ deputy, Michel Vorm, to thank for his side sharing the spoils with Liverpool at White Hart Lane. The Dutch goalkeeper made a crucial save early on to deny Philipp Coutinho from close range, whereas he was also on hand to snuff out the dangers posed by Sadio Mané rushing towards his goal on two separate occasions.

Héctor Bellerín – Arsenal

It was almost like a return home for Héctor Bellerín, who spent time out on loan to Watford in the season prior to his big Arsenal breakthrough. In that vein, Bellerín made himself feel at ease down the right flank, additionally leading a couple of dangerous counter-attacks in the second half that could have seen the hosts lose sight of the Gunners in a hotly-contested affair between the two London neighbours.

Joel Matip – Liverpool

As far as debuts go, there can’t be many complaints about keeping a 25-goal Harry Kane quiet, in particular with Vincent Janssen alongside the Englishman to deflect attention. Three interceptions and 11 clearances rounded off a promising start from Joël Matip in a Liverpool shirt.

Papy Djilobodji – Sunderland

Saturday’s performance versus Southampton shows there may have been some science behind Chelsea picking Papy Djilobodji up from Nantes last summer, who, alongside the coveted Lamine Koné, would have led Sunderland to their first victory of the season had it not been for an unfortunate blunder by Jordan Pickford between the sticks.

Daley Blind – Manchester United

Few would have expected José Mourinho to conform to Louis van Gaal’s habits, in particular that of placing the aesthetically inadequate figure of Daley Blind at centre back. The performances have been very sound, however, much like last season, and last Saturday’s display versus Hull City makes it increasingly tricky for the new Man United boss to justify replacing him with someone like Chris Smalling in the first XI.

Danny Drinkwater – Leicester City

The Danny Drinkwater of old? After the heartbreak of being left out of England’s Euro 2016 squad in France, the ex-Manchester United man was back to doing what he knows best – assisting Jamie Vardy with a pass over the top. A pretty decent one at that, too!

N’Golo Kante – Chelsea

The France international is proving to be an instant hit at Stamford Bridge, just as he was in his time with the current Premier League champions. On top of the two tackles and interceptions made, N’Golo Kanté’s 93.6% pass accuracy culminated in another dominant, yet fascinatingly simplistic performance by the ex-Leicester City man.

Granit Xhaka – Arsenal

In a hope of things to come by Arsenal fans, Granit Xhaka’s range of passing was on full show versus Watford at Vicarage Road, as he racked up the most passes (71) made throughout the encounter with a 85.9% success rate.

Raheem Sterling – Manchester City

The former Liverpool man’s rich form continues with a brace against West Ham United, with his second solo effort in the dying moments of the game being the particular highlight.

Eden Hazard – Chelsea

On the topic of wingers being back to their best, Eden Hazard leads the way with another idyllic performance reminiscent of his pre-2015/16 season. His goal, coming as early as the 9th minute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Burnley, proved to be the pick of the bunch.

Alexis Sánchez – Arsenal

Quite a bit has been made of the prospect of Alexis Sánchez leading the line for Arsenal, with his latest exhibition opening up the debate once more. The Chilean excelled with Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla and Granit Xhaka all feeding into his movements, as he earned the Gunners a penalty in the 8th minute, scored their second five minutes shy of the interval and went on to assist the third in a 3-1 victory.

Reports: Chelsea Look Set To Complete These 4 Transfers Now That Conte Is Back

New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte expects the club to have a massive summer ahead of the new Premier League season. Chelsea are close to completing a deal for Michy Batshuayi and two other players have been identified for this summer as well as one main departure, we take a look at three ins and one out which are set to take place at Stamford Bridge this summer.

1 ) Kalidou Koulibaly

According to reports, Chelsea have won the race to sign Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and are expected to pay in the region of £30 million to secure his services.

The Senegalese international has decided to leave Italy this summer, having failed to reach agreement over a new contract with the Serie A club.

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte who will start his reign in seven days after Italy’s elimination from the Euros wants to build his side around the 25-year-old, and the Blues have stolen a march on London rivals Arsenal who were also keen.

Koulibaly has represented France u20’s 10 times before opting to play for Senegal nation team where he has started five games.

Koulibaly has arguably had his best season of his career this year. Napoli pushed Juventus for the title and he was certainly a main factor to that. Diego Maradona labelled him the best defender in Serie A.

The Gunners, who are desperate to sign a centre-back this summer were very interested in Koulibaly, but, the player appears to have opted for Stamford Bridge after interest from Arsenal, and other Premier League clubs coming too late.