In the build-up to this weekend’s 3-0 win at Newcastle, Thomas Tuchel had discussed his goalscoring wing-backs and his wish for Reece James to be as potent in front of the target as Ben Chilwell after they both found the net last weekend.
The 21-year-old went a long way to proving he can be just that only hours later, with a display of shooting his manager described afterwards as brilliant and likened to that of a horse.
Against a side with many players behind the ball, James broke the deadlock in the second half at St James’ Park with an unstoppable drive and he followed it with another. Jorginho’s penalty confirmed a win that extended our Premier League lead to three points. Liverpool and Manchester City both slipped up at home.
For his goals our right wing-back found himself in the perfect positions to capitalise emphatically after a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross had come his way, and then when a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot was blocked.
‘Reece is allowed to come inside, it's not a problem,’ Tuchel confirmed as he analysed the win.
‘It's about all the spaces where we want to attack from. We have players in all the spaces where we want to be dangerous so if there is a winger pinned wide or waiting wide, Reece is absolutely allowed to take the space. We need the wing-backs to arrive also in the box in the end of our attacks.’
On being asked to compare James’ finishing with that of the strikers, Tuchel joked about maybe trying his forwards as wing-backs, but went on to explain:
‘It's a complex game and I think that maybe Reece cannot score if Callum does not do the dribbling, and maybe Callum cannot do the dribbling if Chilly is not opening the space.
‘We were dangerous on the first post with Kai, in the middle with Ross and then on the second post with Ruben. Then it's possible to score beyond the far post. So that's why sometimes our strikers are sacrificing themselves to create chances and spaces for the others.’
Even though Liverpool dropped two points and Man City three, those results do not add to Tuchel or the team’s satisfaction with the weekend.
‘It will never be the moment when we celebrate results on the other pitches,’ the boss stated.
‘It's first of all far too early and second, we want to focus on ourselves. If you think that we are even happier now [because of the other results], absolutely this is not true.
‘I'm absolutely happy today with the performance off the ball. The effort and discipline that we put into the moments off the ball, that was the key to the win.’