'I would say': Micah Richards thinks Chelsea ace is better at defending than his Liverpool counterpart

Micah Richards labelled Chelsea full-back Reece James as a better defender than Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Speaking on the BBC Football Daily podcast, Richards suggested James just edged ahead of his opposite number at Anfield in terms of protecting the goal.

James or TAA?

There is very little to separate the English pair in regards to talent and capability.

Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Going forward, they are two of the very best in the Premier League.

Their statistics this season alone prove that.

James has four top-flight goals this year, placing him first in Chelsea’s domestic scoring charts.

Alexander-Arnold meanwhile has provided three assists and, according to WhoScored.com, the joint-second most key passes (26) in the division.

They are even inseparable by nationality.

There was a lot of debate leading up to the European Championships over who Gareth Southgate would preference out of the two.

In the end, the decision was taken out of his hands, after Alexander-Arnold dropped out of the squad due to injury.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Yet, James’ ability to play in all manner of defensive positions probably places him above Liverpool’s right-back in the defending department.  

Certainly in Richards’ mind, anyway.

“If you look at Reece James, he’s got a great right foot. He can take free-kicks, corners, whatever,” said the former Manchester City man.

“Who’s got a better delivery than Reece James? There’s only Trent Alexander-Arnold who’s got that.

“I think Reece James potentially can be (a better defender). He’s got more of a frame; he can play a right of a three as well. So, I would say Reece James.”

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Reece has all the pieces

Richards continued to list why he believed James was a more advanced protector, saying: “He’s got all the qualities because he’s physically good.

“He reads the game well, he’s good on the ball. He can cross it and he’s an athlete. So, he’s got absolutely everything.

“I think he can do even more because he is that good.”

After such a breakthrough campaign under Frank Lampard, then a few strong months with Thomas Tuchel, perhaps the best of James is now shining through.

Goals aside, the 21-year-old has been performing confidently in whichever role asked of him by the manager.

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Because of his versatility, Tuchel can rarely worry about putting a square peg in a round hole.

It’s looking pretty shipshape for James at this moment in time.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.