football

Thomas Tuchel lauds Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante for ‘taking Bruno Fernandes out of the game’


The German coach was delighted with how his side nullified Manchester United (Picture: Chelsea TV)

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has praised N’Golo Kante for marking Manchester United danger man Bruno Fernandes out of Sunday’s game, while he also explained why he opted to restore Ben Chilwell to the starting XI.

The French World Cup winner was injured when the new manager first arrived in west London and had to wait until last week’s win over Southampton to start a match under Tuchel.

He was left out of the starting line-up that beat Atletico Madrid in mid-week but came back into the side against United in the goalless draw at Stamford Bridge, marking consecutive league starts for the first time since January 3.

Kante did a number on Fernandes, sticking to him like glue (Picture: Getty Images)

Tuchel has favoured a horses-for-course approach to his team selections since taking charge, giving every player a chance, and he felt Kante was the ideal man to stop Fernandes from exerting his usual influence – and he duly marked the playmaker out of the match.

‘N’Golo first of all deserved it,’ Tuchel told Chelsea TV when asked about his decision to start Kante in Sunday’s game.

‘And second of all it was his job to be around Fernandes and take him out of the game, which he did fantastically.’

Fernandes, usually so influential for United, only managed to set up one chance for his teammates and did not muster a single shot on target.

Elsewhere, left-back Chilwell was picked to start after being an unused substitute in Chelsea’s previous three outings – with Tuchel seeming to favour Marcos Alonso – and the German tactician was keen to take advantage of the younger full-back’s pace and athleticism as the Blues kept yet another clean sheet.

Tuchel continued: ‘With the back four, we chose Chilly because he’s a bit faster and a bit quicker in his movements than Marcos.

‘And we know that they have all the runs when they play their counter-attacking game, their transition game, so we went for that.

Chilwell was brought in to cancel out United’s rapid attacking options (Picture: Getty)

‘We defended first half in a back four, second half we switched to a back five with Reece [James] on the right side and then we attacked the half-field with [Cesar] Azpilicueta and Toni Rudiger.

‘Very, very brave. I was very happy with that attitude and that quality.

‘A bit unlucky [no to win] but on this level you need a bit of luck and sometimes you need maybe a shot from outside the box, or a deflected one, or a set-piece to open the game or maybe to decide it.

‘If you look at our goal against Atletico Madrid, it’s this one moment which can decide games and we didn’t have that today – or we had them but we couldn’t use them, so we have to live with it.’


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