4-1-4-1 – How N’Golo Kante Will Fit Into Antonio Conte’s Plan For Next Season
Chelsea have been on their preseason in the United States, and in their last match there we got to see N’Golo Kante play some minutes in the second half. As this happened, Antonio Conte switched from his preferred 4-4-2 (4-2-4) to a 4-1-4-1, suggesting that Conte isn’t afraid to experiment to get the best out of his squad.
With that being said, Conte isn’t about to ascribe to one formation for N’Golo Kante, rather he was working with players he had on the pitch. The little that Conte and the supporters saw of him was enough to get gritty and begin to salivate over. He looked healthy, capable of running for days, a solid sense of positioning and was always looking to pass forward. He roamed in front of the back four protecting them admirably.
Like at Leicester City last season, he looked explosive and ready to take on the new season with Chelsea. With that being said, will he be a big player at Chelsea? The answer to that question would undoubtedly be a yes with his form continuing from last season, to the Euros and now in to Chelsea’s preseason.
How Conte plans to utilize him is a different story. Conte has told reporters that he prefers a dual partnership with wingers as well (4-2-4). He expressed his preference to a back 4, saying he only used a back three because of his personnel at the time. So with that in mind, he (Conte) maybe looking now for his starting midfield duo, as he has been rotating the midfielders a lot in the hopes of finding the perfect pair.
All of his midfielders have had some good performances so far – excluding Fabergas’ reckless tackle which warranted a red card in the friendly. Oscar and Chalobah have been the stand out performers this preseason so far though in the midfield. Along with Fabergas, Matic has been hot and cold so far, but both definitely look more capable than last season.
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Keeping this in mind, it’s hard to imagine how Conte’s midfield will shape up. He has depth that any manager would desire, power, pace, creativity, goal scorers and let’s be honest, some of the best midfielders in the game right now. He has shown that he isn’t afraid to tinker – Tinker Man 2? – with his squad and play a midfield trio. It’s safe to assume that the trio, if played, would be a mixture of Fabergas, Matic, Oscar and Kante. How Conte plans to implement his preferred midfield duo is something that supporters may not know till well in the season though. Sure, Conte has an idea of who his preferred duo, he just may not be sure who to partner Kante with just yet.
One thing that is for sure, Chelsea’s midfield will be seeing a lot of Kante on the pitch. Conte will definitely continue to tinker and rotate his squad. So we may be seeing many different partnerships in the midfield depending on the opposition. With his willingness to run, and seemingly complete awareness of the game as it’s happening, Kante is without a doubt, one of Conte’s untouchables.