The hosts were far from perfect as they drew 2-2 with their London rivals at Stamford Bridge, but midfield was one area they dominated throughout the evening. For much of the first half, Thomas Tuchel was seen bellowing tactical instructions at Jorginho – the central midfielder nearest him on the touchline – and N’Golo Kante, who was just about within earshot on the far side of the pitch.
The Chelsea boss was far from happy with the positioning of Jorginho, repeatedly asking the 30-year-old to move wider to help mark Dejan Kulusevski, while Kante’s distribution also frustrated the German.
When Jorginho took notice of his manager’s barked instructions, the impact was clear to see. The Italian did a supreme job of keeping Kulusevski quiet, making the Swede look a shadow of the player who lit up the opening weekend of the season.
Jorginho showed the sort of bite in the tackle that was missing throughout his early days as a Chelsea player while, intriguingly, the majority of the creative duties did not rest on him. Instead, Kante was the man who often found himself with a yard of space and a counter-attacking opportunity to release Raheem Sterling in front of him.
The Frenchman has long been regarded as one of the best box-to-box operators in the business but, against Spurs, his decision-making and ability to pick out a killer pass evaded him. This was especially evident in the second half, when Kante failed to beat the first man with crosses from promising areas.
The World Cup winner later succumbed to injury and was replaced by Conor Gallagher in the 84th minute. So, while there were patches of brilliance from the diarchy of Jorginho and Kante, it was not a perfect marriage.
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Action Images via Reuters)
This goes some way to explaining just why Barcelona star Frenkie de Jong is not only on Manchester United’s radar this summer, but also Chelsea’s. The Dutchman has a brilliant blend of positional awareness and technical ability, making him one of Europe’s most-attract midfield prospects, especially as he is only 25.
He is not defensive-minded enough to play as an outright No. 6, nor so offensive to warrant a No. 10 berth, so De Jong appears ideally suited to playing right at the heart of the 3-4-3 system which Chelsea have enjoyed so much success with under Tuchel. With two-and-a-half weeks remaining in the transfer window, it is up to Blues chiefs to decide whether to splash the cash on De Jong – or risk more frustrated outbursts from Tuchel as the season unfolds.