Our team of Pro Pundits, Hall of Famers and guest contributors have returned for 2022/23 to offer their Fantasy Premier League (FPL) insight, tips and advice during the new season, with only Premium Members able to access every single one.
Here, five-time top 1k finisher Tom Freeman ponders a move for Marc Cucurella (£5.0m), weighing up the pros and cons.
Like many, I’m in the market for a new defender ahead of Gameweek 3, having decided to sell Lucas Digne (£5.0m) after a couple of underwhelming outings. For context, I already own Trent Alexander-Arnold (£7.5m), Joao Cancelo (£7.1m), Reece James (£6.1m) and Neco Williams (£4.0m). As a result, I am considering a move for Marc Cucurella, Chelsea’s new £5.0m defender, which would mean doubling up on Thomas Tuchel’s backline. So, in this, my latest column, I’m going to weigh up the pros and cons of signing ‘Cucu’.
Marc Cucurella got off to a flying start on his full debut against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, producing the assist for Kalidou Koulibaly’s (£5.5m) opener. Notably, it arrived from an out-swinging corner, one of four the Spaniard took in Gameweek 2.
During the match, he posted some encouraging underlying stats, as he racked up 57 touches and received 29 passes in the final-third, both team-leading totals. In addition, he attempted two shots, and I do think he has some untapped goalscoring potential in this Chelsea side.
The match saw Cucurella selected ahead of Ben Chilwell (£6.0m) in the starting XI, completing 90 minutes despite having only had a week to train alongside his new teammates. Given that Chilwell has just returned from a significant ACL injury and is still someway short of match sharpness (he featured for the development squad earlier this week), Cucurella’s short-term prospects look pretty good.
“I have a feeling that he (Cucurella) has a bit more feeling for the rhythm and intensity of matches than Ben (Chilwell) at the moment. We keep Ben for substitutions because he is a high-speed runner, an intense runner. But after his long injury I think he lacks a little bit of rhythm and feeling for the matches. That’s why we go for Cucu today.” – Thomas Tuchel
It’s also worth noting Tuchel’s pre-season comments on Chilwell, when he spoke about the need to be cautious.
“Ben (Chilwell) is very ambitious; he couldn’t wait to come back to team training. He looks better and better, but at the same time, it looks like he needs more time to adapt to the physicality of the match itself, which is absolutely normal. It is not only about training and training exercises, little pitches. In the end, it is a very demanding league. We have to take care of him, it’s our responsibility. We can’t throw him in and see what is coming. He is impatient, we will never expect him to be fully patient. He knows, we speak a lot about it. Everything needs its time.” – Thomas Tuchel
Upon signing, Thomas Tuchel suggested he sees Cucurella as both a left wing-back and centre-back (a position Graham Potter utilised him in at times last season), and while the latter role does perhaps feel less likely, his versatility is a real positive.
“I don’t want to get too excited but I have the feeling we signed the new (Cesar) Azpilicueta, in terms of his mentality, attitude, even in terms of his position – just with a left foot. He can play in the back three, he can play wing-back and he is a very nice, very humble guy with his personality.” – Thomas Tuchel
“All three positions on the left side is good for me. Maybe my best position is in a back four, left-back because I play all my career, in academies, in this position and have more movement to be comfortable.” – Marc Cucurella on his best position
Chelsea are a side that relies heavily on their wing-backs for creativity in the final third, with both players handed plenty of freedom to attack. And it does feel like this current Chelsea system is a perfect fit for Cucurella, given that it often resembles a 4-3-3 shape in possession.
In addition to Cucurella’s goal/assist threat, there is clean sheet potential too.
Already this season, Chelsea have shut out Everton at Goodison Park, and their run right up until Gameweek 8 is very decent, which is around the time I plan to Wildcard.