Chelsea’s flying wing-backs are royalty

Death, taxes and Chelsea defenders scoring goals.

For a while now the consensus has been favouring the Chelsea defence over the attack. Keeping clean sheets are just a bonus, it’s all about the attacking returns. I’m writing this straight after the Chelsea vs Juventus UEFA Champions League match where Reece James has yet again shone on the biggest stage grabbing a fabulous goal and racking another clean sheet. Ben Chilwell also had an outstanding game respectively, he was sadly substituted with a knee injury. Tuchel has said Chilwell will be assessed, thus his press conference this week will be key on Friday afternoon. Voices of 16/17 Marcos Alonso lurks in the background.

Reece James is currently the 3rd highest scoring defender in the game with (75) points. Ben Chilwell is not far behind ranked as the 6th highest scoring defender on (54) points. Both are arguably in the form of their lives and those that doubled up on the duo early, have been richly rewarded. If you think they’ll slow down or think “I’ve missed the boat on them” that is false. There is still plenty of the season to go, James in particular is an excellent long-term buy in my opinion. Reece James may be over-performing but the explosiveness is so hard to ignore. He has significantly passed the eye test in every game thus far. The Cobham graduate has a remarkable 4 double digit returns as we approach GW 13.

This graph from my good friend on twitter @EnthusiastFpl shows us how Reece James has been over-performing of late. We should expect a small regression soon, however he is still a fantastic option with great underling numbers along with Trent.

I used the heatmaps on https://www.fantasyfootballfix.com/ and both are basically so high up the field. Thomas Tuchel did say this “If you play in a back three, it is not really a full-back position, more of a midfield position.” Chelsea’s positional flexibility for the wing-backs allow them to roam in the box. They have a telepathic connection with the inside forwards or #10’s and can easily interchange roles. Wing-backs are generally used to maintain width but that’s not a necessity for James, Chilwell and Alonso. They have the license in the offensive phase to cause havoc and stretch teams leaving holes to exploit.

Chelsea’s defence still have an EO of 122% in the top 10k (check your own rank tiers) for the % around your rank. Just having one Chelsea defender may not be enough and would actually hurt your rank more if they don’t get an attacking return. I do like the James + Alonso double up if Chilwell is ruled out. Chelsea also have the joint highest % odds to keep a clean sheet this week against Manchester United.

Is Marcos Alonso worth investing in? 

Currently a bargain at £5.6m so yes, if Chilwell is out long-term but I’d prioritize Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James and Joao Cancelo first. Let’s look at some per 90 mins stats ;

Alonso vs Chilwell vs James :

xG : 0.13 | 0.19 | 0.21

SoT : 0.67 | 1.00 | 0.82

SiB : 1.01 | 1.67 | 1.31

Attm/Chances Created : 2.01 | 1.67 | 2.79

xA : 0.14 | 0.10 | 0.32

BCC : 0 | 0.17 | 0.49

Crosses : 6.88 | 5.33 | 4.93

Now using a comparison matrix to compare their season so far :

My conclusion from the trio is that Reece James has elite assist potential. He is almost certain an attacking return in every game and superior to both in terms of creativity. Chilwell has been outstanding but Alonso can fill his spot at wing-back for the blues. Alonso loves whipping crosses in the box and with the imminent return of Lukaku, I’m expecting him to contribute from the left flank.

Chelsea can overload the width by a #10 dropping off while Alonso runs into the space left by him. The interchange with the wing-backs and hybrid attacking midfielders are always a key component in Tuchel’s system. When Alonso is in the box, he has a strikers mindset. He wants to shoot and score. It’s in his DNA as a wing-back which is why he’ll be a very popular pick during the festive period. Marcos Alonso may just be that early Christmas present we’ve been waiting for in the FPL universe.