Reece James' performance vindicates Lampard's decision to drop in-form Cezar Azpilcueta
Reece James' performance vindicates Lampard's decision to drop in-form Cezar Azpilcueta
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Reece James' performance vindicates Lampard's decision to drop in-form Cezar Azpilcueta

It was bound to happen, and everyone at Chelsea who has watched the 19-year-old Reece James play knew it was only a matter of time before he got his first Premier League start. 

The youngster was rewarded for his good form with a start against Crystal Palace on Saturday at the Stamford Bridge. 

His start came after a largely impressive cameo in the Champions League on Tuesday night against Ajax, where he scored the equalizer in a 4-4 thriller and largely helping the team claw back from 4-1 down.

He became the youngest player in Chelsea's history to score a Champions League goal, attracting positive reviews from former and current players.

After his impressive introduction, it was hard to ignore him.

Despite his struggles at the start of the campaign, the captain has been a regular starter for The Blues, 

Frank Lampard was faced with a difficult choice to make ahead of the match, as including the academy graduate meant he will drop his captain, who has been in-form in recent matches.

And that is what exactly what the former midfielder did; dropped the Spaniard, handed the armband to Willian, in the absence of Jorginho, who is the club's vice-captain. 

Lampard explains his decision

He, however, explained his decision;

"Yeah, he is (a model of consistency)," Lampard told BT Sports ahead of kick-off.

"I spoke with him (Azpilicueta) because I've got huge respect for him, I think he's a legend of the club. For me, as a captain, he's huge in what he delivers and the message he sends down the players," 

"It's more I've got two choices at full-back and Reece has done well. Azpi is in good form too but I thought it was a good chance to give Reece some minutes,"

Well, it was obvious Azpilicueta would come up against Wilfried Zaha, arguably one of the most-skilled winger in the Premier League with blistering pace and ability to easily dribble past opponents. 

Azpilicueta has been in good form but would have struggled to contain the Ivorian, who, when in good form can easily decide the outcome of a match. 

Dominates Zaha

He, however, came up against a mobile, quicker and stronger opponent in James, who completely dominated him. 

He also offered a threat going forward, which forced Zaha to always backtrack and track his runs, which was a tactical plan from Lampard and it worked perfectly.

Chelsea went on to win the tie thanks to goals from Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic, but James impressed many considering his age, and the fact that he was starting his first Premier League match, facing one of the most formidable opponents on the wing. 

Will we see more of the youngster in the coming days, can he displace club captain Cezar Azpilcueta and make the right-back spot his?

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