“Big change” which created Chelsea’s European surge may not survive summer transfer window

Nizaar Kinsella’s piece today on Chelsea’s surge up the table puts a lot of the credit on Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to move a defender into midfield.

“The big change has been moving Marc Cucurella into an inverted full-back role, which sees him stepping into midfield when building up,” Kinsella wrote in his piece today.

There’s no doubt that move worked well, starting at half time in the Aston Villa game where the Blues found themselves two nil down. They came back to draw that game, and then won the 3 to follow.

It creates an extra passing option in midfield while Chelsea have the ball, and also stops the Spaniard’s poor positioning when defending out wide from becoming as much of a problem. Conor Gallagher, playing deeper because of Enzo Fernandez’ absence, slides over to the left both in possession and out, to cover for Cucurella.

That diminishes his effectiveness somewhat, but does help the team overall.

Marc Cucurella in his training gear.

A big change that may not last

While there’s no doubt that moving Cucurella around was hugely influential in getting a result in that pivotal Villa game and in the two matches to follow, it didn’t work nearly as well at the weekend.

Perhaps the 3 previous occasions on which it had been used had allowed Nottingham Forest to figure out how best to deal with it, or perhaps it is simply that the way their team is set up naturally counteracts it. Either way, it was only once Pochettino started making pretty drastic changes to the shape that we got our two final goals.

We still expect to see more of it in the two games this week, simply because it has worked well to hide Cucurella’s deficiencies, but it may not be a plan which survives the return to fitness of Ben Chilwell next season, no to mention possible transfer window activity.

Tags Marc Cucurella

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  1. Yes, Forest seemed prepared for the Cucurella inversion, but we also did a pretty poor job of exploiting the space created by Cucurella’s absence on the left flank.

    As FourFourTwo broke down in an excellent tactical analysis video a week ago, Cucurella’s re-positioning leaves Mudryk alone in acres of space on the left. Unfortunately, he hasn’t a clue how to use it! He did make the one run in behind to score our first goal, but then why didn’t we see that run again for the next hour??? Part of it was Benoit Badiashile scarcely looked his direction, but most of the blame has to rest with Mudryk for failing (as per usual) to make intelligent movement!

    So, with Mudryk presenting little to no option on the left what we ended up doing was trying to build up using only 2/3 of the pitch (the middle and right) and finding the spaces all the more congested because two more players (Cucurella and his marker) occupied them than the normal. This led to a slow, all-too-predictable buildup that produced little threat until Mudryk and Badiashile were both pulled and Gusto, Sterling and James re-energized the attack.

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