Reece James breakthrough should force Gareth Southgate to make changes to England indefinitely – Anita Abayomi


So, you mean to tell me that Reece James finally starts an England match and they score five goals in one half? Can’t just be a coincidence now, can it?

England beat Bulgaria on Friday night to take them one step closer to qualifying for the World Cup. Though they saw out the match in emphatic style, leaving the Bulgarians goalless, it had created an envious problem for Gareth Southgate.

The plot thickens as the battle for that right fullback spot becomes even more intense. The contenders, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker, and Reece James. All worthy defenders but only one can fulfil their destiny playing as either a right wing-back or right fullback.



Reece James of England runs with the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between England and Albania at Wembley Stadium on November 12, 2021 in London, England.
Reece James registers an assist as England thrash Albania 5-0

I guess the first question is, what formation will Gareth Southgate use going forward. We know that the England boss does not shy away from chopping and changing formations however with Chelsea’s two prolific wingbacks now in the equation, surely a 3-4-3 has to be considered as a long term choice?

Southgate has flirted with the 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 in the Euros but I have a feeling that the two Chelsea boys as wingbacks could take this England attack to another level – just like they did with Chelsea.

Reece James was absolutely unplayable on that right-hand side against Albania. His attacking qualities outshone his defensive side as it would do in matches like these. He was confident going forward and made the right passes when necessary. His pass rate was at a whopping 93%, the second-highest of the night and he was able to register an assist with a beautifully whipped free-kick to meet the head of Harry Maguire.

Not bad, don’t you think?

With the 3-4-3 formation, Kyle Walker was able to slide into a back three playing the right-sided centre back, leaving only Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the equation. There’s no denying the talent that Alexander-Arnold possesses. He’s absolutely menacing in front of goal and adds a dynamic edge to the art of being a fullback. Where he lacks in defensive qualities, James excels.

The way I see it, Alexander-Arnold’s qualities on the creative and attacking spectrum supersede James’ however, the Chelsea man is a more rounded fullback/wingback which is where Southgate may struggle.

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It’s not a bad dilemma to have. Both young, both yet to reach their full potential, both ready for a fair fight.

I’ve put my money on Reece James becoming England’s number one choice, however, there’s still the rest of the season to go.

I’m quite excited to see what the future holds for James. As he grows under Thomas Tuchel’s wing he can become the great fullback/wingback in the world very soon. I know what you’re thinking, let me not get too ahead of myself. All I’ll say is, watch this space.

Follow our CareFreeChelsea writer Anita Abayomi on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section. If you enjoyed reading this then give my other articles a read below.





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