Reece James was the hero last night for Chelsea as they edged past Aston Villa in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

The Blues were held to a 1-1 scoreline after 90 minutes, with Cameron Archer’s goal cancelling out an opener from Timo Werner.

However, Thomas Tuchel’s side eventually prevailed by winning 4-3 in a penalty shootout.

James, who had impressed during the game, dispatched the decisive penalty into the top corner with real confidence. The 21-year-old defender had previously provided the assist for Werner’s goal with a pin-point cross into the box.

England international James uploaded a message on Instagram after his display last night, which prompted a three-word response from Chelsea teammate Antonio Rudiger.

Rudiger’s “strong like bull” claim is most likely reference to the way he physically dominated at the back against Villa. It’s clear he’s improving each game on aerial battles and he looked comfortable during midweek as the right-sided centre-back.

Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Reece James increasing goal output

James finished last season with one goal and five assists across all competitions, which was far too low for someone with his attacking quality.

In contrast, the academy graduate already has one goal and three assists in five matches this campaign. He’s capable of making a big difference going forward with his exquisite delivery.

James is a right-back by trade that is great getting in the wide channels before whipping in crosses. However, it suited him last night as a centre-half because he was allowed more space in possession.

His all-round game is coming along nicely both offensively and defensively, but he needs to post more goals and assists to get the kind of recognition he deserves. 

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