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24. Reece James


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Watching the Leeds and Wigan and once again have to say, what a performance! Been watching the whole game. Relegation threatened Wigan with 10 men have beaten promotion chasing Leeds on their own patc

July 2019 "we'll be patient with these young players" July 2020 "what's the point of him"

Watching the game against Norwich and has been the standout player and most obvious choice for MOTM. His strength is ridiculous. Amazing how he is relied on for their set pieces also. Real gem we have

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20 hours ago, Laylabelle said:

He's started a litte fund raiser for a food  charity. Nice bloke! Good on him. Odd that people are accusing him of copying Marcus..its different and plus.. its for a good cause who cares!!!

Yeah dont see the whole copying Rashford thing. Footballers have been involved with various charities for years. Some choose to stay anonymous/not confirm it then some use social media to promote the charities to get donations for it. Would more say that Rashford has inspired a whole generation of young footballers to get involved more than anything. Which is great.

Rate he is going I really wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a knighthood in a year or two at some point because he really is using his status to help and the fact he had been sending stuff to the MPs which prompted them to reverse a decision they had made regarding free meals for approximately 1.3 million children being stopped in the summer. He wont be the only one either, so many people have stepped up during this pandemic and they all deserve to be highlighted and praised. 

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What a fantastic performance. He looks a totally different player from the beginning of the season.

He's making more runs forward, taking more crosses, playing with far more urgency.... Fantastic to see

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Just pure class. Defensively a beast, offensively a beast. He puts in so many good crosses that go unanswered. Only 20 and almost the complete RB already. Literally getting better game by game.

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3 hours ago, kellzfresh said:

What a fantastic performance. He looks a totally different player from the beginning of the season.

He's making more runs forward, taking more crosses, playing with far more urgency.... Fantastic to see

Because people don't learn. Love to make a scene of early games when season after season its always the same. Don't take too serious the earlier games. You need to give time for the players to get back into their groove. 

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5 hours ago, Stats said:

Just pure class. Defensively a beast, offensively a beast. He puts in so many good crosses that go unanswered. Only 20 and almost the complete RB already. Literally getting better game by game.

If only Reece had real pace he'd be a dominant player.

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Reece James quietly becoming one of Premier League’s most dangerous crossers

https://theathletic.com/2182780/2020/11/06/reece-james-crossing-chelsea-alexander-arnold-england/

james-chelsea-1024x697.jpg

Back in January, after a convincing 3-0 win over Burnley at Stamford Bridge, Frank Lampard laid out the role he believed Reece James would come to play in Chelsea’s broader attacking scheme.

“The way I want us to play, the full-backs are going to be huge for us,” Lampard said. “If I want to get it right, then they have to join in and be an attacking threat. And he (James) certainly is for us, he’s a big weapon at the minute that we have to use well. We have to anticipate those crosses now, because they are coming in with a lot on them and we have to be ready to anticipate and get across people and make goals.”

Chelsea’s second goal that day felt like a sequence we might get used to seeing: James initiating a one-two with Callum Hudson-Odoi on the right flank, jogging to the byline and sending in a pinpoint cross to the edge of the six-yard box for Tammy Abraham to connect with. Abraham’s subsequent header was slightly fortunate to sneak between Nick Pope and Ben Mee on the goalline, but the pattern of play that created the chance was simple, repeatable and very difficult to stop.

The only other assist of James’s debut Premier League campaign was also for Abraham: a scooped delivery from a deeper position to set up an unmarked header that broke the deadlock at home to Aston Villa in December. Taken together, the two goals highlighted the versatility as well as the quality of his crossing — the attribute that arguably does more than any other to separate the great modern full-backs from the merely good ones.

Chelsea’s 3-0 dismantling of 10-man Rennes on Wednesday almost saw James match his entire 2019-20 season tally for assists in the space of 45 minutes. One first-time cross gave Abraham the simplest of near-post finishes early in the second half, and another would have presented Timo Werner with a tap-in at the back post were it not for some brilliant last-ditch defending by visiting captain Damien Da Silva.

Reece James

It was a virtuoso individual display from a player who has quietly become one of the most dangerous crossers in the Premier League.

According to Opta, James’s average of 6.75 open crosses per 90 minutes so far this season ranks first among all regular starters in the division, as does his average of 1.59 successful open crosses per 90 minutes. Both are increases on a year ago, when James averaged 5.47 open crosses per 90 minutes (third-most in the Premier League) and 1.25 successful open crosses per 90 minutes (fifth-most in the division).

Liverpool star Trent Alexander-Arnold, arguably the best right-back in world football and the player to whom James is most frequently compared, led the way in the 2019-20 Premier League with an average of 6.74 open crosses per 90 minutes (among those who played 500-plus minutes) and ranked seventh for successful open crosses per 90 minutes (1.02). This season, his volume has dipped a little to 5.29 open crosses per 90 minutes (sixth-most), with an average of 1.0 successful open cross per 90 minutes (14th).

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The numbers from the early weeks of this season, although drawn from a relatively small sample size of minutes, indicate that James’s crossing threat is being featured as prominently in Chelsea’s attacking play as Alexander-Arnold’s consistently dangerous deliveries were in Jurgen Klopp’s spectacularly successful Liverpool system last season. Only time will tell if James is capable of emulating Alexander-Arnold’s remarkable tally of 13 Premier League assists in 2019-20, but he is getting the opportunities to do so.

Those 13 assists significantly exceeded Alexander-Arnold’s expected assists (xA) rating of 9.6. Luck might have played a role in that over-performance, but Liverpool’s all-around excellence, seamless attacking chemistry and clinical finishing were probably bigger factors. Klopp’s team virtually broke Opta’s expected goals (xG) metric last season, finding the net 85 times against an xG rating of just 69.71.

The more familiar Chelsea attackers become with James’ crossing tendencies, the more frequently they should be able to connect with and convert his deliveries.

Abraham’s flashes of natural chemistry with his fellow Chelsea academy graduate are promising on this front, and summer signing Werner is more than capable of striking up a similar level of understanding in time. James’s current xA per 90 of 0.14 in 2020-21 is still some way behind Alexander-Arnold’s production (0.27 xA per 90) in 2019-20. If you isolate James’s xA for those chances he has created with crosses from open play, it is 0.1 per 90 since the start of last season, and that ranks him among the best in the Premier League (joint-fourth) in that time.

And Lampard is convinced that James will only get better, to a level where he is challenging Alexander-Arnold.

“His delivery is too good, and when I say ‘too good’, I’m joking, but we need to read what he’s doing,” he said in an interview with Sky Sports in February. “We need to get bodies in the box because that’s a huge asset. He’s a great kid who’s going to be a huge player for Chelsea. Without getting too far ahead, even though Trent is that good, he’ll be challenging him.”

At an international level, the battle is already taking shape.

Gareth Southgate likes James so much he included him in his latest England squad on Thursday despite the presence of three other nominal right-backs — including Alexander-Arnold — in the 29-man group, and despite the fact James is only available for one of England’s three matches in the upcoming international break because of the red card he got against Denmark last month.

That camp yielded James’s first senior caps, and there are likely to be many more in his future. “What he did was grab the opportunity with both hands,” Southgate said this week. “Sometimes players do that and sometimes young players don’t necessarily have the confidence to come in and immediately play at their very best. He was comfortable enough to do that in every training session and in the games as a sub. Then, in the most impressive example, when he started the game against Denmark.

“He’s continued that form with his club. He was a brilliant example to any player coming in that if you get the opportunity to train with the team, train well. If you get the opportunity to be on the field for 10 or 15 minutes, do that well. Then you gain trust and you get more opportunities. We think he’s a really strong contender with us.”

James is 14 months younger than Alexander-Arnold, who has played an astonishingly crucial role in Liverpool’s dominant run of success over the past two years and arguably helped to redefine what elite teams expect from their full-backs. Both players are only likely to become even more valuable attacking weapons as they grow in experience, providing that their clubs and coaches continue to put them in the right tactical systems with complementary personnel to maximise their best qualities.

Chelsea made significant progress in that regard in the most recent transfer window. Ben Chilwell appears to have immediately solved Lampard’s left-back problem and possesses all of the required attributes to provide a similar balance for James from the opposite side of the pitch as Andy Robertson does for Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool. Just as significant is the arrival at Stamford Bridge of Hakim Ziyech, who will spend most of his time operating in tandem with James on the right of the creative line.

Ziyech is a prolific and deadly crosser from the right wing, averaging 9.72 crosses per 90 minutes for Ajax in the Eredivisie last season. The fact he is left-footed, however, means his deliveries often come from deeper positions as he cuts inside and whips the ball in towards the far post. If defences react to try to take those crossing opportunities away, James can exploit the attention the Morocco international draws to find space for himself on the overlap — just as he did in the lead-up to Abraham’s goal against Rennes.

Asked in the build-up to today’s home game against Sheffield United if the Ziyech-James combination could give his team a unique threat, Lampard replied: “I hope so, and that was part of my thinking when Hakim Ziyech came to the club — the balance of the sides of the pitch is very important for us. We knew Reece’s quality last year, and then when you think you can have a winger in front of him who offers different angles and combinations, who can put balls into the box, it can be a big strength of ours.

“When we look at the sides of the pitch, it’s something we want to exploit. At the moment, we’re getting some praise for the sides of the pitch, but as we move forward we can get better at it in terms of our execution and finishing in the box. It’s something I’m happy with, but also something I want to keep working on.”

James has plenty of room to grow himself, but he is already emerging as another potential game-changer in attack for Chelsea.

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Reece IMO is the one academy player who is closest to WC. He's been improving a lot esp around his initial deficiencies: work rate (esp lack of urgency) and defense.

He has the one characteristic that I've seen in the very best fullbacks over the years, which is the ability to produce good crosses from anywhere on the pitch.

The vast majority of FBs need to get into good positions behind opposition's defense line to produce good crosses, while Reece can do that much earlier, sometimes even before the opposition has a chance to challenge him - very difficult to defend against that.

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Reece James exclusive: £100k charity aim, his crossing and linking with Ziyech

https://theathletic.com/2191646/2020/11/11/reece-james-interview-chelsea-crossing-ziyech-thiago-silva/?source=emp_shared_article

Reece James, the increasingly influential Chelsea full-back, turns 21 in just under a month’s time and he has set himself a target. Not only has James started to rubberstamp his place in Chelsea’s new-look defence, he also made his England debut in October.

Yet increasingly, the young English footballers of the current generation have broader horizons. We have seen it with Raheem Sterling’s sharp and insightful commentary on racism and discrimination, then again by Tyrone Mings’ willingness to join protestors on a Black Lives Matter march during the summer and, most recently, Marcus Rashford’s remarkable campaign to alleviate child food poverty.

In the case of James, his personal dedication to aiding society’s most vulnerable stretches back to last Christmas, when he discussed the issue with a friend, who in turn put him in touch with the Felix Project. For James, it started modestly. He began by donating boots to be auctioned off in a Christmas raffle and he also organised a fundraiser that yielded £1,272 for the charity.

Yet, increasingly, his passions grew.

Throughout this calendar year, James has spent days off at the charity’s two London depots.

The aim of the Felix Project is savvy. They recognise that more than two million tonnes of avoidable food waste is generated by the UK food industry each year and, at the same time 2.3 million children are described by the Social Metrics Commission as being in “persistent poverty”. According to the Child Poverty Action Group, London has the highest level of relative child poverty of any region in England, standing at 43 per cent in inner London and 34 per cent in outer London.

The Felix Project is tackling the issue head-on, and expects to deliver up to 100,000 meals across London per day by Christmas.

James, who has volunteered to help npackage up and deliver relief parcels, decided to publicise his attempts to raise funds.

On Twitter at the end of October, he wrote: “All the stuff on the news about kids going hungry is breaking my heart. I’ve set up this page to help raise money for the Felix Project so they can get more food to hungry people and people who are struggling.”

James himself set the ball rolling with a £10,000 donation and, including Gift Aid, that number has already doubled. His aim is to reach £100,000 by his 21st birthday on December 8.

The defender says: “I am in a position where I can help those less fortunate and I see people who do not have basics, like foods. With me speaking out and asking others to help, it can go a long way and make a difference and change many lives.”

The funding will support society’s most vulnerable. The Felix Project provides for 400 frontline charities and 120 schools in the poorest areas of London but also aids refugees, homeless shelters, elderly people who require support and women’s refuges. Every £10 raised by the charity enables it to provide good food for another 61 meals.

Increasingly, it appears, young footballers see an obligation to help.

“I wouldn’t say I have a responsibility to do it,” James counters. “There are lots of people who have everything who don’t do everything (to help) and only worry about themselves. I just think if I can help the community and change peoples’ lives, I will do everything I can. There are lots of unfortunate families and particularly kids. With the pandemic, loads of people are losing their jobs and are seeing their work cut down.”

His voice stirs, before adding: “Peoples’ incomes are being reduced, which makes it harder to cover the rent or mortgage and put food on the table. I know people in that position, and it is not nice when you do not know where your next meal is coming from. Particularly for young kids, when it is out of their control. It is not their fault.

“It is why I got involved, to try and make sure nobody is going hungry. For everyone going through it, it is very tough and it takes a lot of energy out of you, worrying when you can next provide a meal. It is tough and scary, this whole period. We are entering the cold winter, and there is homelessness. None of us have experienced a pandemic before and nobody was prepared for it. So it gives us a reason to come together, to help each other and hopefully, by using my platform, and asking my fanbase for support, we can create a better atmosphere to help change peoples’ lives.”

For James himself, life is changing at a rapid rate. This, after all, is only his second campaign as a first-team Chelsea player.

He started 16 Premier League games in head coach Frank Lampard’s debut season but this time around, he appears to be nailing down his role on the right side of a defence that is growing in stature and confidence. He has started six of the first eight Premier League matches of the campaign and two of the three Champions League ties.

Defensively, James is increasingly sure-footed, and his pace, strength and wicked delivery from the right flank are a crucial asset in Chelsea’s dynamic attack. After the 4-1 victory over Sheffield United last weekend, Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness said that he “looks like the finished article at the age of 20”. Even before that particular display, James was averaging the most crosses from open play (6.75 per game) among all regular starters in the Premier League and it feels like only a matter of time before Chelsea’s cast of forwards are applying the finishing touches to his devilish deliveries.

James highlights the impact of two summer signings in aiding his development. Chelsea’s defence has tightened up following the arrival of former Brazil captain Thiago Silva from last season’s Champions League runners-up Paris Saint-Germain, while the seeds of a blossoming relationship with winger Hakim Ziyech have also emerged.

James explains: “Thiago has brought a lot of experience. I have played alongside him a few times now. He has helped me a lot. You can see straight away why he has been one of the best in the world. He constantly talks to me throughout games, helping me in my positioning, directing me and making sure he is talking to me before, during and after games. It all adds up and improves performances. Further forward, there have been signs with Hakim in training. Ever since he arrived, we got on well. I knew I would be playing behind him. We clicked early and tried to build this connection in training to use this season. His left foot is just unbelievably good.”

And what about those crosses James whips in. Is there a secret?

“Nope!” he laughs. “I don’t think there is. It is about time, effort and putting commitment in. Only then do the results show. Nothing happens overnight, everything is about repetition and working hard at what you want to achieve.”

Perhaps most remarkably, James is still relatively new to the full-back, or wing-back position. He joined the Chelsea academy as an eight-year-old but played as a striker for the first four years.

“My hero was Didier Drogba,” he says. “I played up front and he was the man at Chelsea, so I wanted to be like him and completely idolised him. Then I went into central midfield, until I was around 14 or 15. I had a good spell there and got used to it. But it then got to a stage I wasn’t really playing and there were loads of midfielders in the team and the right-back position was free at the time. That’s how I found myself there.”

With the competition in midfield, did James wonder whether he might miss the boat altogether?

“There was a stage I thought that, yes,” he admits. “When I first moved to right-back, I didn’t really want to play there and did not enjoy it. But the more I played there, the more I understood it. It was Frank O’Brien, the Chelsea academy coach, who moved me there. You can show a young kid clips (of what to do), but it is so hard to replicate. You need game experience in the position. Over the past five to 10 years, the full-back position has progressed a lot.

“My toughest opponent has been Sadio Mane. He is one of the best wingers in the league, if not the world. He is strong, quick, good on the ball and one of the toughest to play against, and then you also have (Mane’s Liverpool team-mate) Andy Robertson on the outside. It used to be about defending but now it is about not only being very good at defending but offering a big attacking threat.”

James’s progress for his club is mirrored by his growing involvement on the international stage. Manager Gareth Southgate was impressed by his performance in the 1-0 Nations League defeat by Denmark last month, though James marred his display by receiving a red card for confronting the referee after the game. Southgate has called him up for the current round of internationals starting against the Republic of Ireland at Wembley tonight, even though James is only available for one of the three games due to suspension.

“Both Frank and Gareth said I need to learn from it but not to take too much negativity,” he says. “To be sent off is obviously disappointing but now I need to make sure it does not happen again, and the second call-up is great for me. It is very good to hear someone say nice things or receive praise but I am still very young, very early in my career and I need to improve. I can get a lot better and there is a lot to come.”

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5 minutes ago, Jason said:

James apparently playing on the right of the back 3 for England right now. 

You give me a heart attack. Any time I see something posted on one of our players on international duty, I dread it may be an injury. Whew.

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1 hour ago, Stats said:

You give me a heart attack. Any time I see something posted on one of our players on international duty, I dread it may be an injury. Whew.

Tonight is him done, as he cannot play the next two games. So, that is one we should have back safely. 

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