Kante adds stardust

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Chelsea manager Antonio Conte and Chelsea’s Nathan Ake celebrate after last weekend's FA Cup Semi Final. PICTURE: ACTION IMAGES


Tim Harrison

By Tim Harrison

The twists are turns to this thrilling title run-in get another spin this weekend as Chelsea travel to Goodison Park for a blue-on-blue encounter, while Spurs host the north London derby.

Both Chelsea and Arsenal have been buoyed by their FA Cup triumphs, with news of N’Golo Kante’s PFA Player of the Year win adding a sprinkling of stardust.

Kante was impish and dependable again at Wembley as the Blues defeated Spurs in last weekend’s semi; a game illuminated by Nemanja Matic’s piledriver of a strike… up there with Robbie Di Matteo’s blockbuster back in 1997.

The mercurial midfielder is still only 26, and could enjoy a further decade bossing the central space at Chelsea if the powers that be have the sense to tie him down to a long, long contract.

Having been outsmarted by Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford the previous weekend, Tony Conte was determined to win the tactical war against Tottenham at Wembley, and wrong-footed everyone by leaving Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench.

And it worked. On the hour mark (to the nearest second), he introduced the two big guns, and with them a different dimension to a lively, effervescent game.

Within a quarter of an hour it was 3-2 to the Blues, then, six minutes later, 4-2.

It was clever work from the third sub, Cesc Fabregas – booed at every touch by the Spurs fans because of his Arsenal roots – and Hazard that teed up Matic to unleash his unstoppable hoof, crowning a great day for Chelsea that steadied the ship and renewed wavering belief.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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