N’Golo Kante scored his third Premier League goal of the season at Selhurst Park as Chelsea ended Crystal Palace’s three-match unbeaten run to move five points clear of Arsenal who are fifth on the table.
David Luiz expertly played the ball over the top of Crystal Palace’s defence for Kante, who got behind Patrick van Aanholt, calmly controlled the ball with his chest before sending the ball rolling past Crystal Palace goalkeeper Guaita for Chelsea’s only goal of the game.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has stuck with playing Kante ahead of Jorginho in an advanced midfield role, but he revealed after the game that Kante has to stick with his defensive duties.
Kante was probably Chelsea’s best player at the Selhurst Park on Sunday, and Sarri admitted that he was pleased with the Frenchman’s performance, revealing that Kante’s movement was good.
Sarri 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.”
Kante revealed that the move is something that they’ve tried so many times in training, and hailed Luiz for a superb pass.
Kante told Sky Sports: “It is a move I have tried in training.
“It doesn’t work many times but David (Luiz) gave me a good ball and I am happy to score with my left foot and help the team win. It was all about the pass.”
With Sarri being impressed with Kante’s movement without the ball and the improvements he has made in his new position, Sarri has revealed that fellow midfielders Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ross Barkley also have improvements to make without the ball.
Sarri said: “Now we have to work on Loftus-Cheek and on Barkley. Loftus-Cheek especially is a great player with the ball, but he can improve a lot in his movement without the ball.”
Loftus-Cheek has missed Chelsea’s last two games due to injury, and Sarri has bemoaned his team’s injury problems as we’re in a period of busy schedules.
Loftus-Cheek was expected to feature in the game against Palace, but Sarri revealed that the 22-year-old suffered an injury a day before the Palace game.
The Chelsea boss said: “In the last two days we were a bit unlucky. Yesterday in 10 minutes we had three injuries: Fabregas, Loftus-Cheek and Drinkwater. Now today Giroud, and we were already without Pedro and Hudson-Odoi, so now we are in trouble because in January we have to play every three days.”