The focus turns of end of term reports turns to Reece James today, a young player hoping to add a Euro 2020 winners medal to his Champions League success…
The right-back proved once again why he is so highly-rated, putting in consistent performances for both club and country across domestic and European competitions.
Able to slot into a number of different roles throughout the campaign, James established himself as a regular choice in the Chelsea side under both Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel.
Opening day rocket
The right-back couldn’t have wished for a better start to the 2020/21 season, hammering home a stunning strike as we defeated Brighton 3-1 at the Amex Stadium on opening day.
His goal came after Leandro Trossard had cancelled out Jorginho’s opener, before Kurt Zouma added a third for the Blues to ensure we left the south coast with all three points. The defender was the deliverer of the corner that led to Zouma’s goal.
That would be Reece’s only Premier League goal of the campaign, but what a strike it was!
Reece quickly established himself as Chelsea’s first-choice right-back under Frank Lampard at the start of the season, keeping the more experienced Cesar Azpilicueta out of the side to begin with.
The arrival of Thomas Tuchel saw the skipper return to the side with more regularity but that wasn’t necessarily at the expense of James. Our German head coach’s preference for a three at the back with wing-backs allowed for Azpi and James to co-exist at right central defender and right wing-back respectively on many occasions.
James even featured as the right centre-back on occasions too. Tuchel picked him in that role when we played against Leicester in both the Premier League and the FA Cup final, with the German pinpointing the defender’s pace and power as a way to combat Jamie Vardy in the Foxes frontline.
‘Reecey played in the back three and we put Azpi up higher,’ said Tuchel of the switch when we faced the Foxes towards the end of the season.
‘They changed the position because we know about the favourite position of Jamie Vardy in transition and we wanted to have Reecey’s power, Reecey’s acceleration, and top speed against him to eliminate this threat. He did fantastic and I was very happy with him.’
While you’re most likely to see Reece line-up at right-back, the England international also showed his versatility by moving into central midfield on occasions to help see games out.
Without question, the highlight of James – and Chelsea’s – season came in the sunshine of Porto at the end of May.
The defender was a key component of the Blues side that defeated Manchester City 1-0 to win the Champions League for the second time in our history.
James played the entire 90 minutes at right wing-back and was praised for the way he limited the threat of City’s Raheem Sterling, with the England winger unable to get the better of James and cutting a frustrated figure throughout.
Kai Havertz’s strike secured the victory for Chelsea and Reece – sporting a new haircut for the occasion – joined in with his team-mates for a night of celebrations!
More success to come?
With Reece part of the England squad taking on Italy in the Euro 2020 final tonight, there may yet be more silverware for him to lift.
The defender has only featured once for the Three Lions in this tournament so far but, along with Chelsea team-mates Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell, will hope to be involved as England go searching for a first major honour since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Reece James’s 2020/21 stats
Unused sub: 8
Minutes played: 3,532
Reece James Premier League appearances 2020/21
Reece James made 32 appearances in the Premier League for Chelsea this season, of which 25 were starts.
Reece James Champions League appearances 2020/21
Reece James played 10 times in the Champions League this season, including four games as a substitute.
Reece James FA Cup appearances 2020/21
Reece James played five games in the FA Cup this season, two of them from the bench.
Reece James Carabao Cup appearances 2020/21
Reece James did not feature for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup this season.
Reece James goals 2020/21
Reece James scored once for Chelsea in 2020/21, a stunning strike against Brighton on the opening day of the season.