Stats show Pochettino has two very different options in one position for Saturday’s FA Cup game

This is the first weekend for a while where both Ben Chilwell and Marc Cucurella will be available for Mauricio Pochettino to pick.

Each has alternated injuries since before Christmas, but Chilwell’s minutes off the bench on Monday night show he’s ready to return. This Saturday sees us take on Man City in the FA Cup semi final, and Pochettino has a big call to make at left back.

The pair have gone back and forth all season, with Cucurella now up to 13 Premier League starts to Chilwell’s 9. Each has a very different skillset, and the player picked by Pochettino will tell us a lot about his plan for the game. Will he try to take the fight to City at Wembley? Or sit back and try to defend? It feels likely we see both players at some point in the game, but in what order?

Two sides of a coin

Mauricio Pochettino has to decide which of the pair to use against Man City, and the disparity in their stats couldn’t be more stark.

The numbers from Squawka show that Cucurella is infinitely more decisive defensively, while Chilwell’s attacking influence is streets ahead. The Spaniard dominates in aerial and ground duel success rate, ball recoveries and interceptions, while Chilwell excels in crossing and long passing.

It should be noted that some of Chilwell’s stats came with him deployed almost as a left winger to start the season – that gave him more chances to improve his attacking numbers, but also fewer chances to accrue blocks, tackles and interceptions.

Against Man City, one would expect Pochettino to prioritise a defensive outlook. But when given the choice between the two back a month or so ago, Chilwell certainly had the upper hand.

It will be interesting to see if subsequent Cucurella showings have changed that opinion.

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