Thomas Tuchel pays tribute to N’Golo Kante as Spurs face up to ‘problems’

Frenchman was brought on at half-time in London derby and transformed the game

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante scores their second goal during the Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante scores their second goal during the Premier League win over Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Neil Hall/EPA

 

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says he cannot believe how good N’Golo Kante is after the Frenchman inspired Chelsea to a statement 3-0 win at Tottenham.

After being unhappy with what he saw in the first half in north London, Tuchel sent on Kante at half-time and it paid immediate dividends as Chelsea scored two goals in the opening 12 minutes of the second half.

Kante scored the second, after Thiago Silva’s opener, and Antonio Rudiger added a third in injury time as Chelsea ended the weekend on top of the Premier League.

“Top player, if you have N’Golo you have something everyone is looking for,” Tuchel said. “You have everything you need in midfield, you have work rate, intensity, ball wins, skilful play, dribbles, half-field drives and even a goal.

“I see this every day in training and it is hard to believe how good he is. He is a unique guy, there are no more words from me. N’Golo is N’Golo, he is fantastic.”

Spurs, who were mourning the death of their record goalscorer Jimmy Greaves, played with high energy in the first half and Tuchel did not like what he saw from his side.

“We did not change the system, but that maybe was the whole point, it seems like we changed the system, we played the system with more belief, with more energy, quality, sharper,” he said.

“It was simply too sloppy, not sharp enough, we relied only on our skilful play in the first half, I had the feeling we forgot to bring the right attitude and energy to this game.

“As a team we allowed too many chances, way too many ball losses and we had a feeling every 50-50 duel went against us. This had to change.

“If you have N’Golo on the bench and you want to step up in these patterns of the game, he is the best player to bring because he is unique and can change any momentum.

“It seemed to be from characteristics to go a bit more defensive but we wanted to improve our compactness, our ball wins, our spirit as a team and have a higher intensity and work rate in our match and then rely on our skills.

Tuchel admitted there were “stern words’ in the visiting dressing room at half-time. “It was a very aggressive and very emotional Tottenham side in the beginning and I was absolutely not happy with the first 45 minutes,” said the German. “We lacked energy and we spoke about it clearly. Second half was a much better performance, we found an excellent answer. It was a very good reaction and I’m very happy.”

Tottenham are a million miles away from the side that Greaves was a rampant scorer in during the 1960s and even further away from the one that reached the Champions League final just over two years ago.

Unravel

After winning their opening three games under new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, things are beginning to unravel with a second successive 3-0 defeat in the league.

They looked bright in the first half, but could not find the breakthrough and were unable to recover from Silva’s 49th-minute opener, which came from a set-piece.

Nuno said: “I think the change of the game was a set-piece, after that it became really hard for us to get back into the game.

“The goal we conceded, we started chasing a result and with the quality of players that Chelsea have they create problems, straight balls, running in behind and that is the main reason.

“We are going to analyse, there is lots of things we have to look at, but the first impression is the way we conceded really punished us after all the energy we put into the first half.

“We have to find solutions. Since the beginning this is our focus – to find solutions that can help the players to perform. To find partnerships. We started one way at the beginning of the season because those were the players available to build on.

“The international break came and we had problems. Now, I honestly believe the first half was really good, really good. The energy that we put on the pitch – the attitude, the spirit the players had. So if there’s only one positive today, that was the first half.”

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