Chelsea's N'Golo Kante warns Blues against poor second halves

Slavia Prague's Tomas Soucek in action with Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.
Slavia Prague's Tomas Soucek in action with Chelsea's N'Golo Kante.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea's N'Golo Kante has warned his team to cut out their sloppy second-half performances as the Blues look to boost their bid to finish in the Premier League's top four against Burnley today.

Maurizio Sarri's side advanced to the Europa League semi-finals last Thursday with a 4-3 win over Slavia Prague at Stamford Bridge.

But what should have been a stroll into the last four after the hosts raced into a 4-1 half-time lead ended up as a tense finish when Chelsea let Slavia score twice early in the second half.

It was not the first time they have shown a lack of concentration after the interval this term, with Liverpool also scoring twice in the second half to beat them 2-0 just days earlier.

Everton did exactly the same in another Chelsea defeat last month and France's World Cup-winning midfielder Kante admits his team cannot afford to continue that alarming trend if they are to qualify for next season's Champions League via a top-four finish.

Insisting that the Blues are working to resolve those second-half shortcomings ahead of today's home league match against Burnley, Kante said: "It's just something that has happened many times this season and something we need to manage a bit better. But we still have to work on that."

Chelsea are chasing a top-four finish but, if they fall short, winning the Europa League would offer a secondary route into the Champions League.

And Kante believes completing that Europa League mission would turn Chelsea's turbulent first season under Sarri's leadership into a success.

"We can make the season beautiful by winning the Europa League," the 28-year-old said.

"That's the only title we can win now, so it would be great to win the Europa League.

"I think at the beginning of the game, it was a good feeling to score three goals (apart from a Slavia own goal). The most important thing was to qualify.

"We'll go into the semi-final with confidence and we hope to qualify for the final."

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard should be fit for the Burnley clash despite coming off against Slavia with a second-half knock.

Blues defender Antonio Rudiger is expected to miss out again due to a knee issue.

Burnley head to the Bridge with their Premier League safety almost secured and Clarets boss Sean Dyche is intrigued to see how teenage winger Dwight O'Neil copes with his growing reputation.

O'Neil has been linked with Arsenal, Everton and Newcastle after playing a key role in Burnley's climb away from the relegation zone.

"He's certainly in a balanced environment here, where I can't see him running away with any outside noise," Dyche said.

"He seems to be quite steady and enjoying his football.

"That's what I want him to do, play with a smile on his face and enjoy the challenge."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Kante warns Blues against poor second halves'. Print Edition | Subscribe