Thomas Tuchel explains why N’Golo Kante came off at half-time against Aston Villa

September 23, 2021

Thomas Tuchel allayed fears that N’Golo Kante suffered another fitness setback after he was substituted at half-time against Aston Villa last night.

The influential France midfielder has endured a stop-start beginning to the new season with a persistent groin injury forcing the Chelsea manager to use arguably the most important cog in his well-oiled machine sparingly thus far.

Kante was introduced at the start of the second half against Tottenham on Sunday, replacing Mason Mount, and played a pivotal role in what ultimately turned out to be a comprehensive 3-0 victory. The roles were reversed in the Carabao Cup last night, however, with Mount replacing Kante at the interval, but Tuchel explained the change was premeditated

Ross Barkley was strong from the bench and some other guys who didn’t play for a long time stepped up and showed their competitiveness.’

Chelsea eventually secured their place in the fourth round following a penalty shootout victory which saw Kepa Arizabalaga continue his renaissance in goal.

Tuchel added: ‘Kepa is very strong at penalties. He has good experiences in shoot-outs so we focused on that, and tried our best.

‘I’m happy the players kept their cool. It’s a nice win and I’m happy because it was a tough match, a hard cup fight, and it’s a good feeling to win.’