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Danny Drinkwater and Ethan Ampadu provide short-term relief for Antonio Conte’s midfield headache

Chelsea have reached the Carabao Cup quarter-final after securing a 2-1 victory over Everton, but more importantly for Antonio Conte will be the sight of Danny Drinkwater finally making his Chelsea debut.

Conte has admitted that he faces an ‘impossible’ task in trying to find a deputy for N’Golo Kante, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The pairing of Cesc Fabregas and Tiemoue Bakayoko is defensively fragile, despite the Frenchman’s power, but Conte has had no alternative combination to experiment with. The arrival of Drinkwater could now be the temporary solution Conte has been searching for as Chelsea looked a much harder team to break down with the midfielder in the side.

AFP/Getty Images


The £35 million summer signing has finally made his debut after a calf problem caused him to miss the start of Chelsea’s campaign, and his introduction could not come at a better time with Antonio Conte’s midfield struggling without N’Golo Kante.

Drinkwater was eased in to his first outing for the Premier League champions as he was brought off in the 62nd minute, but during his time on the pitch, there were plenty of promising signs. The midfielder’s distribution was typically assured and his tidiness in possession was a big factor in Chelsea being able to have such a comfortable opening half at Stamford Bridge.

Drinkwater has been sidelined with a calf problem. (Getty Images)

Drinkwater’s defensive qualities were also highlighted even further when he was replaced by Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard has been paired with Tiemoue Bakayoko in Chelsea’s last three outings and as Conte has already stressed, his side have conceded seven goals in that time.

Drinkwater is obviously no match for the defensive qualities Kante possesses, but the former Leicester City man made more interceptions than any other player on the pitch against Everton and David Unsworth’s side had far more joy cutting through Chelsea’s midfield when he was substituted just after the hour mark.

Ethan Ampadu turned heads with his assured performance. (Reuters)


The 17-year-old was handed his first senior start for Chelsea and on this display, he deserves another chance to make a further impression. At times, Ampadu was guilty of being too overambitious with his distribution, but he demonstrated that he has the foundations required from a central midfielder in Conte’s system.

Ampadu worked well alongside Drinkwater to stop Everton from creating anything dangerous from central areas and the 17-year-old showed that he has no issues with stepping up with seasoned first-team players as he was frequently spotted ordering his teammates into position.

A Premier League debut may be too soon for Ampadu, but on the basis of this performance, Conte should have no hesitation with starting the midfielder in Chelsea’s next Carabao Cup fixture.

Source: Metro Online

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Danny Drinkwater and Ethan Ampadu provide short-term relief for Antonio Conte’s midfield headache


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