The France midfielder impressed against Liverpool in Istanbul as the new Blues boss began to make some tactical tweaks
Frank Lampard is following in the footsteps of predecessor Maurizio Sarri in playing N’Golo Kante as a box-to-box midfielder, and has been hailed for doing so by new Besiktas coach Abdullah Avcı.
Sarri was criticised during his sole season in charge at Stamford Bridge for not deploying Kante in a deeper role, instead opting for Jorginho as his No. 6 in a three-man midfield.
But in giving the France international a more expansive role to get up and down the pitch, Lampard followed Sarri’s lead by handing Kante licence to patrol the whole field against Liverpool in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash.
Anf atching on as the Blues faced Jurgen Klopp’s side at Vodafone Park, Avcı picked out Kante as the key man.
“Kante’s return to the starting line-up significantly improved Chelsea,” the Besiktas boss told Goal in an exclusive interview‘.
“It’s impossible to define Kante as a classic defensive midfielder. Lampard assigned him to a box-to-box role against Liverpool and this resulted in an impressive performance.
Known for his tough tackline and breaking up play, Kante impressed Avcı in possession and with his willingness to carry the ball forward, and he was quick to back Sarri’s previous decision.
“He made eight successful dribbles which is his career high!” he added.
“Sarri was constantly criticised for this but Kante was the best Chelsea player on the pitch.”
Despite being a huge fan of Kante’s display, there was another player who caught his eye.
“I also liked Pedro,” he said. “He’s the ideal attacking wing player in modern football; he can help his team, protect the ball, he doesn’t lose possession easily and can dribble past his opponent in the blink of an eye.”
Following Chelsea’s Premier League defeay by Manchester United in their opening game of the season, Lampard will have been encouraged by Wednesday night’s display, drawing 2-2 with Liverpool after extra-time before cruelling losing in the penalty shootout.
Having bounced back from the Old Trafford hammering with a strong performance, the new Blues boss has been backed by Avcı to succeed, and he belives he can build on Sarri’s tactical nous.
“With Maurizio Sarri, Chelsea used 4-3-3 formation very efficiently and became one of the fastest-passing teams in the Premier League.
“They made a good start but had some troubles in the final third as the season continued. It appears that we’ll see mainly a 4-2-3-1 formation this season.
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“Before the Liverpool game, I was expecting Chelsea to have less possession and go with a more transitional offense mentality with Frank Lampard. This UEFA Super Cup game proved my expectations are correct.
“However, they may struggle gaining results if these defensive problems aren’t fixed. Obviously, it’ll take time for us to see what Lampard has in mind but this team have a strong tactical-memory from last season and I believe that this philosophy will evolve into a more efficient strategy.”
Chelsea are next in action when they host Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.