N’Golo Kante earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace to boost the Blues’ bid for a place in the Premier League’s top four.
Kante, a World Cup winner with France in the summer, has been deployed in a more advanced position on the right side of midfield by Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea.
He netted his third Premier League goal of the season at Selhurst Park as Chelsea ended Palace’s three-match unbeaten run to move five points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal in the battle for Champions League qualification.
Willian and Ross Barkley had hit posts in quick succession in the first half and the hosts’ performance showed little of the style and substance which had earned victory at Manchester City eight days earlier.
Olivier Giroud started alongside Eden Hazard as Chelsea named a recognised striker for the first time since the loss at Wolves on December 5. He needed help to hobble down the touchline at full-time due to an ankle injury.
It had been the Frenchman’s first start since three days prior to that, against Fulham, while Ross Barkley started for the first time in almost two months, since the November 4 win over Palace at Stamford Bridge.
Hazard had been deployed in the ‘false nine’ position to good effect in recent weeks, but Sarri switched things up as rumours persist that Chelsea will be in the market for a new striker in the near future.
With Hazard moved back to his original position, that meant it was down to impressive Aaron Wan-Bissaka to keep the Belgian quiet.
Luckily for the full-back, he did just that, with Hazard struggling to perform to his very best throughout the 90 minutes.
However, it wasn't enough for Palace as Kante's second-half strike gave the visitors the deserved three points.
Speaking after the game, Wan-Bissaka commented on what it is like to have to man-mark someone like Hazard, and you can see what he said in the video above.