There had been moments throughout Chelsea’s 4-0 win over Juventus on Tuesday when Reece James appeared virtually unplayable. Alex Sandro and Adrien Rabiot could possibly be seen doubling up on him from as early as the second minute however their efforts had been in useless.
The 21-year-old, all velocity and explosive power on Chelsea’s proper flank, ripped into Massimiliano Allegri’s facet from the begin. By the finish, in addition to scoring his fifth aim of the season, he had taken extra pictures than another participant and created the most possibilities too.
Juventus will not be the first facet to have discovered it unimaginable to deal with him this season and they won’t be the final. James is maybe the most harmful participant in the nation proper now. His attacking output may even be redefining expectations of the wing-back.
In addition to the 5 occasions he has discovered the internet himself, James has supplied 5 assists, giving him the next mixed whole than another Chelsea participant this season. Across all competitions, he’s averaging a aim or help each 100 minutes.
James is congratulated by Thomas Tuchel after the win over Juventus
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His newest effort, rifled dwelling from Ben Chilwell’s half-cleared cross on Tuesday night time, encapsulated the twin menace of Thomas Tuchel’s wing-backs. His involvement in Chelsea’s subsequent strikes additional underlined simply how a lot he’s bringing to the facet.
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In the build-up to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s third, he could possibly be seen controlling a diagonal go from Antonio Rudiger with the instep of his proper foot in the field earlier than teeing up Hakim Ziyech along with his left.
For Timo Werner’s fourth, he confirmed spectacular energy to outmuscle Juventus substitute Moise Kean close to the midway line earlier than pinging a pinpoint cross-field ball out to Ziyech on the left.
That mixture of bodily prowess and technical guile has lengthy marked James out as a future Chelsea star and whereas Frank Lampard deserves credit score for selling him to the senior facet, it’s the former midfielder’s successor who’s taking his recreation to the subsequent degree.
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Tuchel initially used James sporadically following his appointment at Chelsea in January. At occasions, the German even most well-liked to deploy him at right-sided centre-back slightly than at wing-back.
That was finished, partially, to be able to add velocity to Chelsea’s backline towards opponents looking for to run in behind, similar to Leicester’s Jamie Vardy in the FA Cup ultimate. But Tuchel additionally defined that Cesar Azpilicueta, his different possibility in the proper wing-back place, “took more risks” in the ultimate third.
That has modified this season.
Tuchel has implored James to contribute extra offensively and he has responded emphatically. If the academy graduate has any lingering inhibitions going ahead, you wouldn’t comprehend it.
The most placing change in James’ recreation is the frequency with which he’s getting himself into scoring positions.
He is averaging greater than twice as many touches in the opposition field than he was final season and it’s half of a deliberate technique. “We need the wing-backs to arrive in the box to increase the chance of scoring and creating goal chances,” defined Tuchel lately.
His numbers for possibilities created and pictures are trending in the identical course in consequence and James can also be demonstrating far higher composure at key moments.
His capturing accuracy fee has leapt from 50 per cent final season to 83 per cent in the new marketing campaign – the highest of any participant to have had no less than 10 makes an attempt on aim in the Premier League to date.
It stays a small pattern dimension – James has performed simply under 1,000 minutes in all competitions – however additionally it is value noting that his objectives have all come from roughly the identical place.
His glorious strike towards Juventus was simply the newest reminder of how he’s timing his runs intelligently, guaranteeing he has area to get a shot off when the ball reaches him at the again publish.
James is proving elusive in the opposition field and, like Chilwell on the reverse facet, he’s additionally making higher use of what is named the ‘half area’, the space between the wing and the centre of the pitch, the place he interchanges positions with the broad ahead on that facet, making him much more tough to defend towards.
“Reece is allowed to come inside, that’s not a problem,” stated Tuchel lately. “We have all the players in the spaces where we want to be dangerous. So, if there is a winger waiting wide, the wing-back is allowed to attack the half space.”
Against Juventus, the tactic precipitated repeated issues, and the hope for Chelsea is that – even when Chilwell is unavailable over on the left following his early withdrawal with a knee harm in that recreation – it is going to be the same story towards Manchester United on Sunday.
James will definitely fancy his possibilities of inflicting extra injury at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s left flank is, in spite of everything, an space of appreciable weak point. Of their 11 errors resulting in pictures or objectives this season, 5 have come on that facet. They have conceded a excessive focus of objectives from there too.
Manchester United have conceded a excessive share of objectives from the left-hand facet of their penalty field this season and made a excessive quantity of errors there too
Luke Shaw is enduring a very tough marketing campaign at left-back whereas United now face the prospect of being with out captain and left-sided centre-back Harry Maguire, who’s suspended for the journey to west London following his sending off in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ultimate recreation in cost towards Watford final Saturday.
If there may be anybody succesful of exploiting their frailties in that space, it’s absolutely James. Juventus couldn’t deal with him and nor might Leicester earlier than them. Manchester United could possibly be subsequent.
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