Chelsea's 'possessed' forgotten star sends Mauricio Pochettino emphatic Fulham message


When the Chelsea lineup was announced an hour before kick-off on Wednesday evening, there was some confusion amongst the fan base. And as a journalist, there were so many questions to ask.

What we saw in front of us was essentially three left-backs on the pitch and good luck trying to figure out who was operating where. Ben Chilwell, Marc Cucurella and Ian Maatsen were all included. And Levi Colwill, who is naturally a central defender of course, but had been playing as a left-back in the early stages of the season.

With Malo Gusto suspended after picking up a straight red card in the defeat to Aston Villa at the weekend, and Reece James still missing because of a hamstring injury, who was going to play at right-back? Many thought it would be Axel Disasi considering he finished the game there on Sunday, but no, it was – rather surprisingly – Cucurella.

The Spaniard was making just his second start of the season in all competitions, with his other coming in the Carabao Cup second round victory over AFC Wimbledon. In fact, he has not played a single minute of Premier League football this season – but he has now put himself in contention to do so on Monday night against Fulham.

Tasked with keeping tabs on Kaoru Mitoma, Cucurella was thrown straight into the deep end on the right side of defence. And, as expected, Mitoma was getting the better of the Spaniard in the opening exchanges and it looked as if it was going to be a long old night for the full-back against his former club.

But as the game went on, Cucurella began to get to grips with the speed and trickery of Mitoma – helped by his teammate Maatsen, who was tracking back to double up on the dangerous Japanese winger. The fact that Mitoma was brought off by Roberto De Zerbi in the second-half was testament to how well Cucurella did on the night.

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Cucurella ended the match only being dribbled past once, made nine tackles, one interception and overall looking like a really strong player. With Chelsea's right-back issues, have they just found a more than competent deputy in Cucurella?

With Fulham on the horizon, the Spaniard could not have done more against Brighton to send a message to Mauricio Pochettino. He did all he could do versus the Seagulls.

Taking to Reddit, Chelsea fans were loving – and rather shocked – with what they saw from Cucurella. One user said: "Mans was possessed. Wanted to prove both Brighton and Chelsea wrong. He is such an easy player to love when he is on his game."

Someone replied: "He really is. He started very poorly but that didn't last long. One of his best games for Chelsea." Another added: "RB Cucurella masterclass. Just as expected." While another said: "Man was masterful in the second-half".

There has been the odd performance from Cucurella in his Chelsea days. Borussia Dortmund at home last season comes to mind. But he has never been able to back that up and produce some sort of consistency. It is now, or frankly, never now, Marc.

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