Tim Sherwood says Graham Potter’s tactics hindered Reece James in Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Saturday evening.
Chelsea’s hopes of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League look all but over as goals from Watkins and John McGinn sealed the victory for Unai Emery’s side at Stamford Bridge.
A 10th defeat in the Premier League has left Chelsea 11 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, although they could also be overtaken by Newcastle and Brighton if they win their games in hand.
Potter chose a three-man defence against Villa with James playing on the right side, while Loftus-Cheek operated further forward before he was replaced in the 57th minute.
And former Villa boss Sherwood feels Potter’s tactics did not get the best out of James’ attacking talent.
When asked if Potter’s decision to regularly change his line-up is hindering Chelsea, Sherwood told Premier League Productions: ‘It doesn’t help. ‘I cannot understand why Reece James is not playing as a right wing-back.
‘You’ve got [Benoit] Badiashile on the bench, why’s he not playing because it makes it more solid, they look a threat on the counter, Aston Villa.
‘The most offensive player they have is Ben Chilwell. He’s given them the width, he’s playing high up the field, they’ve just got to foce that ball in there time and time again and they’re just not doing it, look at the frustration [when he doesn’t get the ball]. He’s got a good delivery, he’s a threat.
‘This should be a threat on the right side as well but unfortunately it’s not because you’ve got Reece James playing as a right-sided centre-back instead of a right wing-back.
‘For me he has to be there, you’ve taken away a lot of what Reece James gives you, which is offensive threat.
‘You look at Loftus-Cheek on the right side, if that’s Reece James he would be as high as Chilwell is on the other side, it’d give them a double-pronged attack down the left and right side.’