The tactical tweak that saved Chelsea – and might help £60m mistake not look so bad

Chelsea were 2-0 down yesterday afternoon and looked like they could ship more goals, but Mauricio Pochettino made an interesting Tweak which changed things around.

The Blues coach instructed Marc Cucurella to move more centrally into midfield when his team were on the ball, joining Conor Gallagher and Moises Caicedo in an energetic tackling wall that turned the tide.

The trio worked well shutting down Villa, and it really played to Cucurella strengths. It was a good way to recover from the early own goal, which really came from bad defending in front of him and some bad luck.

Knowing he had protection behind him, Cucurella was able to steam forward and press on the front foot as he likes, with Thiago Silva, Benoit Badiashile and Trevoh Chalobah staying deeper to cover runners. We think it’s a setup we could see more, although the more attacking Malo Gusto will return at some point and change things further.

A new role finally fits

Cucurella is an odd player, in that he does have some outstanding characteristics and can do some things well – while still lacking some very basic skills. It makes using him right all the more important.

The reality is that Ben Chilwell is probably not going to be a reliable option for the rest of this season, and may never be again. And despite rumours the club are happy to sell Cucurella, no reasonable offers feel like they’ll arrive. He cost £60m, and right now we wouldn’t even get half that back.

So finding a way to get the best out of him is probably the best thing the club can do. If this setup works for him, that’s some progress. Right now, it’s just a question of going game by game and trying to earn enough points to get into Europe. After that, we can think more long term and big picture.

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