Wednesday 18 September 2019

Sarri sticking to his guns on Kante's midfield role

Maurizio Sarri: No argument on Kante. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Maurizio Sarri: No argument on Kante. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Charlie Eccleshare

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has reiterated that he will not back down in the debate over where best to deploy N'Golo Kante, claiming that his style of football cannot work with the Frenchman at the base of midfield.

Sarri has been criticised for moving Kante to a more advanced position in order to allow summer signing Jorginho to operate as a deep-lying playmaker. Jorginho's lack of mobility was painfully exposed by Tottenham last month in a 3-1 defeat that also exposed Kante's limitations going forward.

In last week's 2-0 win against Manchester City, however, Jorginho was better protected by his fellow midfielders, while Kante popped up with the crucial opening goal.

Ahead of today's trip to Brighton, Sarri dismissed the idea that the City win vindicated his conviction in playing Kante in advance of Jorginho. In the manager's eyes there is not even an argument - having a ball-playing midfielder in front of the defence is a non-negotiable part of his quick-passing 'Sarri-ball' philosophy.

"We have a squad for this kind of football," he said. "If you buy Jorginho and have [Cesc] Fabregas, then I think you have to play 4-3-3. If you play 4-3-3 in my style of football, then the central midfielder is a very technical player. Jorginho is very fast in the mind. He is able to play one touch or two touch. Fabregas also is technically really very good.

"I think that Kante in my style of football has to play [further forward]. I can understand that somebody might think something different but if you think to my football, you have to say that I am right."

As well as providing a timely confidence boost, the City victory meant Chelsea reclaimed fourth spot. "Maybe it is the most important in this season at this moment," said Sarri of the Brighton game. "We need to confirm our motivation and determination."

Chris Hughton's Brighton have made an encouraging start to the season that suggests they are capable of securing a top-10 finish in the Premier League.

Brighton, who will be pursuing a third victory from four, will hand a late fitness test to forward Jose Izquierdo before selecting their starting team.

"Every season the bottom half of the table is so close," said Davy Propper. "It's difficult to stay between seventh and tenth, but we will try and I think that's a big goal for us.

"Since last season our performances have been a little bit better, but we still have to improve our away results," the 27-year-old Propper added. "If we can do that, I believe we can stay here and that's what we want. Our squad is much bigger than last season and we can solve problems such as injuries and suspensions much easier."


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