Sarri stick­ing to his guns on Kante’s mid­field role

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - 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.”

Mau­r­izio Sarri: No ar­gu­ment on Kante

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