Reece James delivers an emphatic reminder of Chelsea class with the return of Thomas Tuchel’s kingpin in style

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The praise for Reece James was among the most palatable from traveling Chelsea fans as the winger sent an emphatic reminder of what Thomas Tuchel was missing.

In his first start since December 29, the England international scored a spectacular individual goal and was instrumental in two others.

“He’s one of us” sang the away team after James left Dwight McNeil with twisted blood and fired a shot past Nick Pope.

Before kick-off, some had chanted the name of Roman Abramovich during a minute of applause to show their support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.

It was in poor taste and earned the mockery of the majority of Turf Moor.

Their acknowledgment of James was more appropriate. He was brilliant.

At his best, he’s practically unplayable – blessed with marvelous balance, quick feet, and frightening speed and power.

His target was superb individual skill that proves why he is so central to Tuchel’s system, which relies on inspiration from outside in the absence of a No.10.

James and Ben Chilwell have been key to any title challenge this season. So losing one was always going to be damaging. Losing both, devastating.

And that’s how it turned out after Chelsea gave up a six-point lead atop the Premier League to end up watching Manchester City and Liverpool make it a two-horse title chase.

Could they have kept pace with James involved after Chilwell’s knee ligament injury? It’s debatable – but from the moment he limped out of their 1-1 draw with Brighton in their last game of 2021, Tuchel knew he was in trouble.


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