For 53 minutes, things were going well for Chelsea in their recent game. The team had scored two first half goals and had improved their attacking performance, and Reece James, a key player, had returned to the field. However, the lasting memory of the game was not the strong play by the team, but rather the moment when James pointed to his knee again, causing concern among fans and the team. Despite this setback, the team’s strong play, including the contributions of Christian Pulisic and Thiago Silva, helped them secure a victory.
This victory over Bournemouth not only helped Chelsea reset after a string of losses, but it also took some pressure off of their manager and allowed the team to focus on their strengths. Since taking over at Chelsea, Graham Potter has made some unpredictable adjustments to the team, which have had mixed results. In this game, however, he chose to deploy each player in their best position and the blend of the team seemed to be just right, allowing them to easily outperform Bournemouth. This victory may provide a welcome boost of confidence for the team as they continue to play under Potter’s leadership.
In this game, Jorginho displayed elegant ball movement while Denis Zakaria provided energy and support, and Juventus loanee Havertz moved between center forward and deeper positions. Christian Pulisic and Raheem Sterling were able to exploit the space Havertz left behind to attack. The return of Reece James, who had been injured and unable to contribute to the team’s World Cup campaign, seemed to tie the team together and provide a much-needed boost to their attacking force. When James was absent, other players like Havertz, Sterling, Mount, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struggled to perform at their best, but with James back on the field, the team was able to demonstrate their full potential.
In this game, Kepa Arrizabalaga’s first instinct was to quickly pass the ball to Reece James, who was able to hold his position wide and create driving lanes for Raheem Sterling and gaps for Mount to pass through. James’ presence on the field allowed his team mates to exploit spaces and attack effectively, and he was always available to provide passes to teammates in space. The team’s attacks heavily favored the right third of the pitch, with 50% of their attacks coming through this area. James’ strong play helped to tilt the pitch in his team’s favor and contributed to their success in the game.
Suddenly, James dropped to the ground, holding his knees and signaling that he was unable to continue playing. There was no apparent contact or injury that caused his sudden departure, and his exit caused concern among fans and his team. It is unclear at this time how serious the issue is and how long he will be out, but it is clear that he is a crucial player for the team and his absence will be felt. Manager Graham Potter acknowledged James’ talent and importance to the team, stating that he is a world-class player who could play for any team in the world.
James was reportedly disappointed and frustrated by his sudden departure from the game, and it is unclear at this time how serious the issue is. It is unfortunate that James was forced to leave the game just a few minutes before he was due to take a well-deserved break, as the team had planned to limit his playing time to around 60-65 minutes as part of a gradual build-up. James’ departure affected the team’s performance, as they lost some of their territory and possession and became more evenly matched with Bournemouth. Had Ryan Christie converted a chance in the 79th minute, the game could have become more tense for Chelsea.
After James’ departure, Chelsea struggled to replace his contribution to the team, as demonstrated by Raheem Sterling’s inability to receive the necessary support on the right flank. Cesar Azpilicueta, while willing, was unable to provide the necessary support due to his age and declining physical capabilities. It will be difficult for the team to find a replacement right back in January who is of sufficient quality to match James and willing to accept a backup role. While the team was able to secure a victory in this game, they may be concerned about the potential impact of James’ absence on their future performance, as they have previously struggled without him and may need to rely on his return to reach their full potential.