COMMENT By Dominic Toner
N’Golo Kante is proving to be the main driving force behind Chelsea’s pursuit of the Premier League title.
The Blues recorded a sixth consecutive league victory on Sunday as they beat Middlesbrough 1-0, with in-form striker Diego Costa scoring the decisive goal.
The Londoners have now moved to the top of the table and have a one-point lead over Liverpool in second and Manchester City in third.
Chelsea have not conceded a single goal during their six-game winning run and 25-year-old Kante has been crucial to their success.
Costa and Hazard have now scored a combined 17 league goals between them this season and taken much of the recent praise, but Kante once again showed how valuable he is against Middlesbrough.
The central midfielder has settled very quickly since his arrival at Stamford Bridge in the summer and could be the difference between Chelsea lifting the title this season and falling short.
The French international left Premier League champions Leicester after playing a huge role in their unlikely title success last campaign.
He is now proving just as valuable to his new club and is bringing the best out of all his team-mates.
Kante has struck up a formidable partnership alongside Nemanja Matic in midfield and the latter is returning to his top form.
The France international is providing the defensive cover to allow Chelsea’s attacking players the licence to roam freely, as well as acting as a screen in front of defenders David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill.
Kante caught the attention of European football last season with his defensive stability and quality of interceptions, but has also begun to offer more going forward.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has encouraged the midfielder to express himself more on the ball and he has demonstrated a great range of passing this season.
The Blues are currently the team to beat and if Kante continues to dictate games then they should be regarded as favourites for the title.
In other Chelsea news, Paul Merson claims the club can do anything if Conte rests these two key players.