Assessing Which Midfeld Pair Frank Lampard Should Utilise at Chelsea

​It’s fair to say that Chelsea have enjoyed a stunning start to the season.

From Tammy Abraham’s goals to the scintillating arrival of Christian Pulisic, a lot is going right for the boys in blue. But another factor for the impressive form is the resurgence of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic.

Both players have stepped up their games massively since the arrival of Frank Lampard, and have formed a quality tandem in the middle of the park. However, N’Golo Kante has arrived back from injury, and impressed alongside Kovacic against Crystal Palace while Jorginho was out injured. 

Three doesn’t go into two, and Lampard is going to have to make the tough decision of dropping one of these three players in the very near future. So let’s make this choice easier for him, and evaluate who would be the best pairing for Chelsea.

Hope you’re reading this, Frank.


Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg,N'Golo Kante

Honestly, this is where ​Kante is leaps and bounds ahead of his competition.

When playing in a midfield two, you need at least one of the players to have some defensive ability, and Kante has bundles of that. When watching Chelsea, you’d think that there’s three of him on the pitch. He covers the ground incredibly, and is tenacious in every tackle. Every time he’s taken the field for the Blues, they have looked so much more stable defensively.

Jorginho and Kovacic aren’t as strong defensively. That’s a fact. 

However, as Jorginho is the actual holding midfielder, it is more of a problem that he lacks a top defensive mindset. Don’t get me wrong, he reads the game well and is strong in a tackle, but in the big games, the Italian’s lack of a physical presence has been a problem. 

Chelsea have played every game in the Champions League this season without Kante, and it isn’t a coincidence that almost every game has been end to end. Let’s be honest, they were lucky to come away with a draw at home to Ajax after being 4-1 down, and have played most games like a basketball games as opposed to regular football ones. 

When they come up against the real big teams, they will exploit a midfield pivot of Jorginho and Kovacic, and they could be on the end of a serious hiding.



This is where Jorginho excels, keeping things ticking over at the heart of midfield in expert fashion. It could have been argued that he was passing the ball sideways and backwards with little attacking impetus last season, but that has been put to bed this campaign, as seen by his stunning assist for Abraham against Watford.

Kante and Kovacic are both fine passers of a ball, and both look to pass the ball forward. However, none of them are able to do it like Jorginho.


Mateo Kovacic

The biggest complement that can be paid to ​Kovacic is that at times last season, it was easy to mistake him on the ball for Eden Hazard.

Kovacic is truly outstanding when dribbling with the ball at his feet, and can beat most players with consummate ease. It is mesmerising at times.

Kante is also a superb dribbler – a characteristic of his game that is vastly underrated. Just look at his goal against Liverpool earlier this season, in which he weaved through a number of players brilliantly before tucking the ball into the top corner.

Whether it is because he never needs to do it, dribbling is not a strong characteristic of Jorginho. He tends to just sit in the middle of the park and orchestrate with his passing.


N'Golo Kante,Jorginho

This is tough to gauge, as all three of them are strong offensively in their own way.

Jorginho is able to dictate attacks with his passing, although the offensive job is often left to the midfielders playing beside and in front of him. He scores the rare outfield goal for ​Chelsea, with most coming from the penalty spot. However, that is only normal for a holding midfielder.

Kovacic offers a lot offensively with his ability to drive through a midfield and put his side on the front foot. However, one criticism of the Croatian is his numbers in front of goal. For a midfielder who finds himself in offensive areas often, zero goals in his one and a half seasons at the club is almost unacceptable. Three assists isn’t a great return either.

Kante’s attacking output has improved massively over the last two seasons (thanks Sarri), and that has made his role in the team a crucial one. As someone who does so much work defensively, the fact that he is able to affect the game in the final third is massive. The Frenchman picked up four goals and four assists last season, and has already scored two this season. The complete midfielder.

Big Game Player

Ngolo Kante

N’Golo Kante has been there, and done that. He is the epitome of a big game player. Superb throughout a winning World Cup campaign? Of course. The best player in Leicester’s incredible Premier League winning season? Duh. Premier League player of the year when Chelsea won the league in 2016/17 season? You know it. There are no doubts about Kante’s ability to perform on the biggest of stages.

There are question marks over Kovacic and Jorginho in big games, but it is perhaps unfair to judge them as of yet. Chelsea were poor in general last season, but they have both showed improvements this season. We need to wait and see how the pair perform over the course of the next few months. However, Lampard may still be worried about how open they are when they play together against the top teams.


N'Golo Kante,Mateo Kovacic

Let’s get this straight, when Kante is fit, Kante plays. He is by arguably the best box-to-box midfielder in the world, and offers something in every department. However, the Frenchman is more crucial for Chelsea defensively, as they simply lack any top-class defensive minded midfielders. Kante is the first man in.

The second spot is an interesting one. With Kante in midfield, is Jorginho really needed? Kovacic can offer an attacking threat with his driving runs, and Kante is able to cover when needed. Both players are able to pass the ball well enough – albeit not at the level of Jorginho.​ However, it just seems like this pairing have enough offensively to make up for Jorginho’s expert passing, and also have the incredible defensive ability of Kante.

Of course that isn’t the end of Jorginho. Certain games may suit playing all three of them together, for example against Manchester City after the international break. However, a number ten will be needed in most games against weaker opposition than City, and that’s where Mason Mount or even Ruben Loftus-Cheek would play.

So there we go Frank. Your best partnership is Kovacic and Kante. When you shock the world and win the league this season, make sure to give us a special mention.


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