Monday, December 5, 2022

Breaking Down Reece James’ First Full Season As A Chelsea Player And What To Expect From Him

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Nikhil Vinodh
Nikhil has been an avid Chelsea fan for as long as the concept of time has existed and rumours say that he even bleeds blue. Having lived in the UK for 3 years, Nikhil is said to have an excellent understanding of the atmosphere surrounding the English game. His role model is the greatest manager of all time - Jose Mourinho.

Premier League superpower Chelsea have been right at the top of the European game for many years now, and a lot of that was obviously down to sharp recruitment across various positions. One of the Blues’ biggest concern areas now, which has been once their biggest strength, is at full-back. While it must be conceded that most of the issues have been with the left-sided role, the fact remains that Cesar Azpilicueta, for all the defensive quality he does possess, isn’t the right option in an attacking sense.

The likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Jose Bosingwa had set high standards at Chelsea, and it was never going to be easy for anyone to replace them. Azpilicueta has undoubtedly done an incredible job, but the fact remains that in the modern environment of Premier League football, the full-back is one of the most pivotal positions. Frank Lampard’s efforts to incorporate youth into this Chelsea side has been no secret, and one of the results of the smart idea has been the introduction of Reece James.

Chelsea’s English defender Reece James controls the ball during the UEFA Champion’s League round of 16 first leg football match between Chelsea and Bayern Munich at Stamford Bridge in London on February 25, 2020. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Who Is Reece James? 

The Englishman is a 20-year-old right-back who had been a member of the Chelsea youth system for more than ten years before being promoted to the first-team picture by Frank Lampard this season. One of the many current starters who has come through the ranks at Cobham, the youngster arguably has what it takes to challenge Trent Alexander-Arnold for the English starting spot in the coming years. The full-back’s only move away from Chelsea came last season when he spent the campaign out on loan at Wigan.

What Has Reece James Added To This Chelsea Team? 

The youngster would ideally be described as the quintessential modern-day full-back, in that he is capable of bombarding forward down the flanks just as well as he can track back and defend. Despite being only 20, the Englishman has shown excellent composure and maturity all through the campaign, and it’s safe to say that he had quite the impact in Lampard’s attacking setup. Renowned for his deliveries into the box, the youngster has seemingly created a new production line of creativity for Chelsea down this right flank.

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 29: Reece James of Chelsea raises his hand as he takes a corner during the Premier League match between AFC Bournemouth and Chelsea FC at Vitality Stadium on February 29, 2020 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

How Has Reece James Performed This Season? 

The Englishman wasn’t brought into the first-team picture until around the midway point in the season when Frank Lampard deemed it necessary to find another creative inlet. While nobody expected the gaffer to drop the skipper in the youngster’s favour, that’s exactly what Lampard did.

Fortunately for the Spaniard, that arrangement didn’t last very long, as Azpilicueta was pushed over to the problematic left-hand side owing to his massive amounts of experience and defensive know-how. The 20-year-old featured in 17 league appearances before it was brought to a halt, and he even scored his first Chelsea goal in that memorable 4-4 clash against Ajax in the Champions League.

What Should Chelsea Fans Expect From James In The Years Ahead?

The youngster’s initial involvement with the first-team has been motivating to say the least, and it wouldn’t be overly far-fetched to claim that the Englishman could become the Blues’ starting right-back for a long time to come. Although filling the massive boots of Azpilicueta is sure to be a challenge for the Cobham youth graduate, his overall quality and considerable attacking tendencies make him an excellent option down that flank for Frank Lampard.

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