EPL

Chelsea boss lauds James display after starring in Burnley win

By Sports Desk March 05, 2022

Thomas Tuchel praised the quality of Reece James after the wing-back registered a goal and an assist in Chelsea's 4-0 thrashing of Burnley.

James has recently returned to action after suffering an injury in December's 1-1 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion, playing just over an hour in Chelsea's EFL Cup final loss to Liverpool and appearing in an FA Cup win at Luton Town before starring at Turf Moor.

The England wing-back scored a superb opening goal early in the second half, twisting and turning before firing a neat finish into the bottom-left corner, before supplying an assist for Kai Havertz's second goal of the day as the Blues netted three times in eight second-half minutes.

With 11 goal involvements in the Premier League, James is the first defender in Europe's top five leagues to register at least five goals and assists this season, and Tuchel was full of praise for him after the comfortable win.

"We missed him for such a long time that you get used to it," Tuchel said. "It was nine weeks and in this time we had something like 25 matches, so we were constantly trying to find solutions and we did it as a team.

"We managed to win games and even titles in this period but once he's back and plays three times, today the first time from the beginning, you see what you missed. 

"[He has] such huge quality and it's very impressive how decisive he is in training and now even in the games.

"These [wing-back] positions are very important when you play with this [3-4-3] structure and it's the same on the left side, so it puts things into perspective when you see what we missed.

"I'm very happy that he came back like this."

James is also one of just three English players to record at least five goals and assists this term in the Premier League, alongside West Ham's Jarrod Bowen and Chelsea team-mate Mason Mount.

Meanwhile, Tuchel was also keen to praise the influence of Thiago Silva, after the 37-year-old contributed to Chelsea's third consecutive league clean sheet.

Before racking up their four second-half goals, Chelsea came under a good deal of Burnley pressure in a tense first period, and Tuchel was keen to highlight the Brazilian's importance against a physical home side.

"He's so professional. The dressing rooms are not so big here [at Turf Moor], which is not a problem, but when you're in there so close with the team you can see his focus, and how professionally he prepares for every game. 

"That's why he can perform like this.

"In a match where you have so many long balls and so many second balls, and where you rely so heavily on the quality of your first touch if you win a duel in the air, it makes a huge difference and that's what he does.

"It's very impressive but I can tell you he works very hard, and on top of it he's a fantastic person and a big character in the dressing room."

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