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 DeRead on football.london