After a tough start to the season, Chelsea look to be back on track. Antonio Conte’s side may have a tough job of retaining their Premier League title, something which seems increasingly more difficult these days, but it would be a strange bet to write them off completely at this point.
Especially if their team starts to gel together.
It seems a strange thing to say about the champions, but this summer has been one of a fairly large-scale overhaul of the squad. There were accusations that the Blues hadn’t strengthened as well as they could have done, but the reality is that some key players who have played crucial roles in the squad for years left the club. In their place are new signings who need to slot in and get up to speed.
That’s why it should be a huge relief to all at Stamford Bridge that Tiemoue Bakayoko looks to be forming a sterling partnership with N’Golo Kante, even after the signing of Danny Drinkwater.
It was against Leicester City on Saturday, ironically enough, that Bakayoko struck up his partnership with last season’s player of the year. And the stats bear it out.
Not only did the summer signing from Monaco have the most touches out of any player on the pitch on Saturday, but he also had more dribbles and made more tackles than anyone else. On top of that, all of his attempted dribbles were successful and so were all of his tackles. He also made a clearance and two interceptions in a stunning display of all-round midfield play.
It may not be the most penetrating of stats, but both Bakayoko and Kante made exactly the same number of passes at the King Power Stadium. The partnership between the two Frenchmen in Conte’s midfield is going to be crucial to his team this season, and the fact that they now seem to be on the same page is good news.
But interestingly, it was Bakayoko who made the more tackles and defensive contributions, and Kante who bagged the goal, suggesting that there may well be an evolution in the style of play this season.