Joe Cole is excited about how much more Chelsea defender Reece James can give after watching his display in Saturday’s 7-0 victory at home to Norwich City.
Chelsea’s excellent start to the Premier League season continued today by thrashing Norwich at Stamford Bridge. It was a complete mismatch between the team top of the table and the one rooted to the bottom.
James, 21, was back in the starting line-up at the weekend for the first time since September.
The right wing-back spent the 90 minutes focusing on contributing in attack, albeit there were a couple of glimpses of his physicality and awareness in defensive scenarios.
He scored his second league goal of the season in elegant fashion. The England international produced a delicate chipped finish after being assisted by today’s hat-trick hero Mason Mount.
Pundit and ex-Chelsea player Cole was left waxing lyrical about the potential James has in his post-match analysis.
“I’ve banging the drum for Reece James for so long. He’s got so much more to offer than he shows as well. He can really push anyone in that right-back slot,” Cole told BT Sport.
Reece James keeps getting better in attack
Regular Chelsea watchers have known about what full-back James can offer going forward since he made a first-team breakthrough. It feels like, though, he’ll now start getting more recognition given that his numbers are improving.
The powerhouse has two goals and three assists in nine games across all competitions already this season.
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel praised wing-back pair James and Ben Chilwell for being offensive threats after the Norwich win.
It’s clear the back-three system depends on their wide men contributing further up the pitch.
Can he cement spot in XI?
There is no doubting that James is the long-term answer for Chelsea as the right-sided defender. However, Tuchel is showing he’s going to continue rotating his line-up and that means there will be times where James is back on the bench.
Versatile defender Cesar Azpilicueta, who was given a rare rest today, usually plays for the Blues.
Tuchel is often trying to juggle selecting all his defenders, which is why it’s difficult to say James can become a nailed-on starter. Even in-form man Ben Chilwell is going to be looking over his shoulder.
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