With a goal and an assist in the opening game of the season, Reece James was understandably a happy man after our 3-1 win at Brighton on Monday night...
Reece James doesn’t open his goalscoring accounts without the necessary pomp and panache that such a milestone deserves. He netted his first Chelsea goal on his debut a year ago, firing into the back of the net from outside the box in a Carabao Cup tie at Stamford Bridge against Grimsby Town.
Six weeks later, the defender scored a memorable equaliser in our thrilling 4-4 draw with Ajax, his first Champions League goal and one that almost blew the roof off the Matthew Harding end in the process.
A maiden goal in the Premier League has taken a little longer to come along but when the Blues needed a response after conceding an equaliser at Brighton in our campaign opener, the 20-year-old stepped up and fired an arrowing strike into the top corner that proved unstoppable for Seagulls stopper Mat Ryan.
‘It was obviously a good goal, a good strike and thankfully it hit the net,’ James reflected afterwards.
‘We played them in a friendly a few weeks ago and it was tough then so we knew coming here for the first game of the season, it was going to be tough again. We had to dig deep and push up a gear [after conceding] but we did that and got another two goals.’
James was joined in the starting team by two new debutants – Timo Werner and Kai Havertz – and he claimed the arrival of the German duo, alongside Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech and Thiago Silva, had increased the competitiveness of the group.
‘When you bring high-level players in, it’s going to bring with it a lot of competition,’ he explained.
‘It brings the competition up and makes everyone work harder to fight to get their place in the team.’
While it might not have been a free-flowing performance from the Blues at Brighton, as Lampard admitted after the game, James believes things will start to click with more time to work at Cobham for the group in the coming weeks.
‘As the games go on we’re only going to get stronger,’ he added. ‘There are still new players in the team so we have to gel, get a stronger bond and keep improving week by week.’