Frank Lampard is trying to restore Chelsea’s form and league position and has been presented with a crucial boost ahead of the weekend as Reece James battles to return to full fitness.
The England full-back has encountered knee and hamstring problems in recent weeks and has missed Chelsea’s last three matches, but he could be set for selection by the time the Blues face Fulham on Saturday evening having returned to training.
James has proved to be integral to Lampard’s new-look team this season having displaced Cesar Azpilicueta as the team’s first-choice right-back, and his presence was making a notable difference early on, especially when deployed behind Hakim Ziyech.
The academy graduate offers specific tactical perks – primarily in attack – that cannot be matched by Azpilicueta, who has different types of strengths in less offensive areas.
James, simply put, is more mobile, has quality in possession and his delivery is extremely difficult to defend against once he’s permitted to cross into the penalty box.
Despite operating as a full-back, he is capable of playing the last pass for Chelsea in the build up to a goal and that influences the approach of the opposition.
As a consequence of his attacking traits, he tends to attract attention which draws opposing players away from other teammates and if that fails to happen and he’s not closed down, then he usually proceeds by showcasing one of his dangerous crosses.
The 21 year-old is therefore a double-edged sword of sorts and when partnered with Ziyech – who is equally skilful when crossing but prefers his left foot over his right – opponents simply have to allow one of them to cross in many situations, as shown below.
Reece James offers a two-pronged attacking threat from the right when paired alongside Hakim Ziyech
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