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Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante had been absent for over a month due to a groin injury that has kept him out of action.
In his place, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have formed an effective partnership in the middle of the park for Chelsea, with Mason Mount playing in the No. 10 role.
Jorginho has played all of Chelsea’s Premier League games before the Crystal Palace clash, and Kovacic has been his midfield partner in Kante’s absence, forming a fluid partnership with the Italy international in the central midfield.
However, the return of N’Golo Kante coincided with the suspension of Jorginho, and Kante and Kovacic paired together in midfield to face Crystal Palace.
Sky Sports writer Nick Wright believes that the return of Kante could now pose problems for Frank Lampard’s already settled midfield.
Wright writes: “It presents a dilemma for Lampard – even more so given how seamlessly Kante slotted back into the side. On his first appearance since the 4-1 win over Southampton over a month ago, there was little evidence of rustiness.
“In Jorginho’s absence, it was Kante who could be seen switching the play as Chelsea piled on the pressure in the first half. At one point, he used the outside of his boot to scoop a fine pass from right to left to find Christian Pulisic. By the end of the game, he had completed seven long passes out of seven – more than in his previous five appearances combined.
“Lampard may decide to pair Kante with Jorginho after the international break, but if he is to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation he used again at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, that would mean dropping Kovacic.
“Few Chelsea fans would have complained at that prospect at the start of the season, but the Croat looks liberated having struggled to exert himself under Sarri. His driving runs have added a different dimension to the midfield – no Chelsea player is averaging more dribbles this season – and his passing and positioning have been similarly impressive.
“The alternative, then, is to revert to the 4-3-3 formation he used earlier in the campaign and a midfield which looks a lot like the one Sarri used last season, with Kante and Kovacic shuttling up and down the pitch either side of Jorginho, whose recent renaissance has made him undroppable.
“The issue there, however, is that it would mean leaving out one of the players currently operating further forward in support of Tammy Abraham.”
Do you think Kante’s return will pose a problem for Frank Lampard?