Chelsea legend Pat Nevin has questioned Thomas Tuchel’s decision to play Reece James in a deeper role than Cesar Azpilicueta in the 1-0 FA Cup final defeat to Leicester City.
Tuchel made several eyebrow-raising decisions in his line-up, but the decision to switch James and Azpilicueta’s usual roles is certainly the most suprising one.
Azpilicueta has played the right wing-back role on several occasions, but this is the first time James played in the back three.
Nevin was clearly unimpressed and believes the decision hindered Chelsea’s attacking potential on the right side of the pitch.
“Thomas ought to ask himself a few questions,” Nevin told Chelsea’s post-match Matchday Live programme.
“We put Reece James back there and Azpilicueta in front [of him].
“Well, OK, it worked defensively, but not in attacking sense. Because we didn’t create down the right-hand side and we had been creating constantly on the right-hand side.
“And I know there is a reasonable argument that Jamie Vardy is dangerous.
“But after 15 minutes into the second half, [Tuchel should have] switched them two. ‘Azpi, you just go back. You’re a great defender, mate, you cover the area. Reece, we need you up there.
“I wanted that to happen quicker and get the balls into the box.”
Nevin made a fairly good point, given Azpilicueta only attempted two crosses in the game despite playing as a wing-back.
James, on the other hand, had eight attempts and could have had more if he had played further up the pitch.
Obviously, this was far from being Chelsea’s only problem in the game.
They were only able to force Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to make difficult saves in the last five, ten minutes of the game — at which point they were already a goal down.