Marc Cucurella played a grand total of zero minutes through our first six Premier League matches of the season, watching on quietly though unmissably (that hair!) from the bench.
But he was pressed into action from the bottom of the depth chart for the last two (and the League Cup third round as well) thanks to injuries and suspensions, and he actually acquitted himself decently enough, playing out of position on the right flank instead of his usual spot on the left. (Reminds me of the occasions when José Bosingwa would play in an unfamiliar defensive role, and generally end up doing better than his usual levels.)
And while he’s unlikely to keep that place once Reece James and Malo Gusto return after the international break, Cucurella’s contributions could turn out to be key for the season overall — if we can make this truly a turning point for the campaign, and the project that is.
Like many of us, Cucu’s seeing signs to that effect, as he expressed after our 4-1 win over Burnley last weekend.
“It’s a very good win for us because we were confident and scored a lot of goals. In other games, maybe we lose confidence [after going behind], but today we followed the game plan, kept building, and kept fighting. The confidence in the team is better after two wins in a row.
“Today, maybe we got a little bit of luck with the first goal, we’ve not had that in other games. Then we continue. We believe in ourselves and the plan and we have a really important three points.”
-Marc Cucurella; source: Chelsea FC
The mood coming into this international break was certainly a lot better than going into the previous break in September. A three-match winning run will do that, I suppose, but it does feel a bit more significant than even that at the moment.
Of course, the schedule after the break, with Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester City all on tap in three of the next four games in the league will put that theory to test ... and then some!