Comparing Chelsea’s record with & without Reece James since 2020-21

Reece James has developed into one of Europe’s finest attacking full-backs over the past couple of seasons – and Chelsea certainly feel his absence when he’s not playing, as their record when he’s unavailable shows.

“I have been banging the drum for Reece James for years,” Joe Cole told BT viewers after James’ Man of the Match display against Juventus in a thumping Champions League victory in November 2021.

“I remember coming back and training with the team after being in America. I was blown away by his technical ability. Especially for such a big, strong, athletic lad. His touch is velvet, he makes the right pass, and takes the right decisions.

“When he gets in front of goal it is like your top, top strikers’ level of composure and technique.”

But the 23-year-old has struggled with injuries during the last couple of seasons. Many of their supporters have attributed the Blues’ winter slump in 2021-22 to James’ absence from their January and February fixtures.

And, after picking up an injury against AC Milan in October, Chelsea have again suffered a seasonal decline in their form that’s left them lying in mid-table.

This was only exacerbated when, after returning for the Christmas match against Bournemouth, James left the field after just 52 minutes and faces another spell on the sidelines.

The England defender has missed a third of the games in his career so far through injury, meaning the Blues have often needed to cope without him.

This got us thinking; do Chelsea perform better when James is playing or when he isn’t? You’d think it’d be an open-and-shut case, with the England international adding a different dimension to the Chelsea side, both under Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter.

But the numbers don’t necessarily show this. We’ve compared Chelsea’s record, in all competitions, with and without James in the starting line-up since the start of the 2020-21 season.

With James starting

Played: 76
Won: 38
Drawn: 21
Lost: 17

Goals for: 123
Goals per game: 1.65
Goals against: 72
Goals against per game: 0.95

Points per game: 1.78
Win rate: 50.0%
Loss rate: 22.4%

Without James starting

Played: 69
Won: 45
Drawn: 15
Lost: 10

Goals for: 123
Goals per game: 1.78
Goals against: 46
Goals against per game: 0.66

Points per game: 2.17
Win rate: 65.2%
Loss rate: 14.5%

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