Chelsea have several of important games coming up in the final ten days of February, including the second leg of the Europa League Round of 32 tie against Malmö FF, the home league game against Tottenham Hotspur, the League Cup final against Manchester City, and, on Monday, the FA Cup Round of 16 match against Manchester United.
That’s four important games and at least three hard ones, all of which will demand laser-sharp focus from the Blues in what will be a make-or-break two weeks of the season. Of course, the only real way to handle all this drama is to go game-by-game.
“We have a lot of important games during this month still, so we need to be focused on responding in the best possible way to each game. I’m sure we’re going in the right direction, and even though we have a final to play, we need to think game by game.”
That’s left back Emerson reflecting on Chelsea’s prospects, after taking Marcos Alonso’s place at left back with increasing regularity in the past few weeks. The 24-year-old who has struggled to make an impact since arriving at Chelsea twelve months ago, has started three of the last six games and made a potentially telling substitute appearance as well, coming on for the broken and out-of-form Alonso in the second half of the 6-0 embarrassment suffered at the Etihad last weekend.
When given the chance, Emerson has generally performed well, and he now looks to have fully recovered from the ACL injury that had affected him for the past two seasons. Like Alonso, his defensive work could be improved, but his pace, quick feet, and crossing ability have been a welcome addition.
“Playing away from home is always very difficult. I did my best on both offensive and defensive functions [against Malmö], and I’m happy that I was able to help the team come out with the victory and a good advantage for the second game at home.”
-Emerson; source: Goal
Like many of the second-string players, Emerson has played more games in Europe than in the Premier League this season, but the former may yet turn out to be the more important competition, especially if Chelsea go on to win it and qualify for next season’s Champions League that way. Chances are, Emerson will play a large role in whether that happens or not for the Blues.