Tactics and Transfers: England are Chelsea without James and Chilwell

Reece James and Ben Chilwell of Chelsea (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)
Reece James and Ben Chilwell of Chelsea (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images) /
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Reece James, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ben Chilwell of Chelsea (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images) /

Now that the once-every-four-years distraction that England’s hope to find new ways to confound the English has ended, we can get back down to the business of Chelsea Football Club.

Thomas Tuchel was right when he assessed the squad and said “we need Achraf Hakimi”. Everyone thought that he was mad. But Tuchel, as was usually the case with the genius whose madness was merely a matter of a moment than a state of being, was correct in his assessment. We sat around and thought that having the best right-back in the world meant that Hakimi was unnecessary. Though, the German saw the frailty of being so reliant on Reece James and that then compounded again should Chilwell be out as well, which is again the issue the Blues finds themselves with. As is the case with England, it should be said, whose fortunes pale through ironic comparison to Hakimi’s with Morocco.

CFC and the Three Lions have the best right and left backs in the world, although Chilwell gets more of a fight from Alphonso Davies than James gets from his nearest competitor.  Without them, the veritable cliff which is as much a compliment to their quality as worry to their club is astounding.

Before James and Chilwell were injured against Juventus under Tuchel last year, Chelsea looked like they were not only going to run away with the title but buy it a bottle of champagne, some strawberries and tuck in, and be bored of it by early spring. Then the club ended up chasing fourth.

This season under Potter, and with defensive duo both rounding into form and James finally putting to bed this nonsense with Trent Alexander-Arnold, they went on a nine-game unbeaten streak where they trounced AC Milan both home and away and, at one point in a five-match period, had a goal difference of +11.