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Conte confirms first league start for winter signing

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Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Marcos Alonso’s 3-match retrospective ban owing to “violent conduct” in Chelsea’s previous match against Southampton, means that Emerson Palmieri dos Santos, who signed from AS Roma in January, will finally have his chance to shine.

To Alonso’s credit, his fitness levels have been remarkable with the club going through the whole of last season without an actual back-up option. Kenedy, on occasion, was presumably shunted into that position due to being the only other left-footed midfielder in the squad but it clearly wasn’t a viable alternative that could be explored henceforth. Alonso also made it through the first half of this season with no actual understudy - Davide Zappacosta was effectively second choice left wing-back until the signing of Palmieri, and somewhat surprisingly even for a month since his signing.

It hasn’t been long since the 23-year-old recovered from an ACL injury, although he did play for Roma twice in January before moving. One can only speculate as to why Conte hasn’t afforded Emerson with more than 105 minutes of playing time so far (90 of them coming in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Hull City) but the gaffer made it clear that he’d hand Palmieri his first league start tomorrow.

‘Tomorrow Emerson will play. I think he is ready in both the physical and the tactical aspect.

‘I don’t know if he’s ready to play games every two or three days just yet but tomorrow against Burnley is our focus and for sure, he is ready to play this game.’

- Antonio Conte (source: Chelsea FC)

We know that Conte likes to have a bedding-in period with new signings, especially if they’re young, or coming off the back of injury problems. Although it may have been rushed due to circumstances, perhaps Emerson’s is now over. Hopefully he can grasp his opportunity with both hands.