When Chelsea set their eyes upon Arsenal’s team sheet at the Emirates on Saturday evening, they will have lit up.
They were missing a host of senior players including new summer signing Gabriel, their captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and former Blue, Willian.
However, if they took added confidence from that, it clearly didn’t show on the pitch.
This was arguably one of Chelsea’s worst displays of the season as they missed the chance to go second and suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat. Frank Lampard was understandably angry at full-time – this was a display that lacked quality, desire and urgency.
They were playing a team who hadn’t won in seven Premier League games so on paper, they should have come away with all three points. Instead, they were battered and bruised by a heavily improved Arsenal side.
One of the worst performers was Reece James, someone given a torrid afternoon by the rampant Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli.
Time and time again the full-back was beaten and caught out of position, eventually giving away a penalty after contentiously bringing down Tierney. It was a moment that summed up his game and it didn’t get better.
James is known for being a fabulous crosser but on this occasion, he was poor in attack too. The England international succeeded with just 12.5% of the balls he delivered into the area.
Furthermore, the 21-year-old conceded two fouls and lost possession a mammoth 17 times. To put things simply, this was a horrible outing for the youngster.
To make matters even worse, James failed to win any of the ground duels he contested, being bullied down Chelsea’s right-hand side.
It was a surprise that he wasn’t withdrawn at half-time but the defender did combine more nicely with Callum Hudson-Odoi when he was introduced at the break. Unfortunately for Lampard, it was too little too late.
James hasn’t done too much wrong this season but this performance has to draw questions about his place in the side. Cesar Azpilicueta may have lost a yard of pace, but he is still capable defensively.
The manager has some thinking to do.