Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Future Chelsea legend to make a return to Graham Potter side in a new pre-January boost

Future Chelsea legend to make a return to Graham Potter side in a new pre-January boost

It was a familiar goal in its execution: the ball was fired into the back of the net from an acute angle with pinpoint precision and controlled aggression. Those in Chelsea blue dashed down the touchline in front of supporters in the Matthew Harding Stand in a similar manner.

Who is the scorer? That was Reece James, who for the second consecutive year punished an Italian powerhouse during their Champions League visit to Stamford Bridge.

In October, AC Milan, the defending Serie A winners, were defeated 3-0, prompting Graham Potter to exclaim, “He can play in any game in the world, he’s just tremendous.”

“He’s developing all the time. He’ll get better and better as we go. I’ve really enjoyed working with him and he’s got a lot to offer. My job is to try and help him reach his potential because his potential is beyond the sky. For us, we love him. He’s so important. He can be a Chelsea legend, that’s the level that he has, the potential that he has.”

James’ value to Chelsea has only increased since the beginning of last season. As a wing-back under Thomas Tuchel and later Potter, he combines defensive intelligence and raw physicality with a lethal threat in the last third. There is virtually nothing the England international cannot accomplish.

This is why his absences over the previous year have been detrimental to Chelsea. James missed twenty matches over the previous academic year owing to injuries and illness.

This season, the number has already reached ten, primarily as a result of the knee ligament injury the 23-year-old received in the return Champions League group match against AC Milan at San Siro.

This injury harmed James both physically and emotionally, as he missed the World Cup in Qatar despite his best efforts.

“Devastated,’ the academy graduate wrote on Twitter after being told by Gareth Southgate he wouldn’t make the squad. “The minute I injured my knee, I knew the turnaround to make the World Cup would be tight, but I always felt it was possible.

“I’ve worked harder than I ever thought I could to give myself the best chance of going and truly believed I could help the team. I appreciate there was a risk on both sides but it was one I was willing to take. Good luck to the boys. I’ll be back soon.”

James’ recovery proceeded throughout the World Cup, and he made a tentative return to training on Monday, after flying to Abu Dhabi with a temporary Chelsea first-team group for a warm-weather training camp.  “Reece is not quite fully training yet but he’s integrating into it,” explained Potter.

James, who signed a new six-year contract in September, has continued to train with the first-team squad for the past three days, according to football.london. There is genuine hope that he may be able to return to competitive action on December 27, when the season resumes at home against Bournemouth, if he continues to complete training sessions without incident.

Given the criticism Potter has received prior to the World Cup break, this would be an enormous lift for Chelsea and Potter. The stats clearly demonstrate this. In James’ seven Premier League appearances this season, the Blues have a 57% winning rate. Without him, it plummets to an unsettling 0.14 percent.

The sample size is undoubtedly modest, and other criteria, such as the strength of opponents, should not be neglected. With James roaming the right flank, whether from wing-back or full-back, Chelsea are unquestionably a far more dominant team. He has become the club’s most valuable player, a true game-changer.

His return will be essential ahead of a demanding January schedule in which Chelsea will face Manchester City twice, Liverpool once, and Fulham and Crystal Palace in London derbies.

Future Chelsea legend to make a return to Graham Potter side in a new pre-January boost

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