For about two and a half seasons, Marcos Alonso had the Chelsea left flank on lockdown. First as a wing-back under Conte, then as a more conventional left back under Sarri, Alonso played a remarkable amount, remained remarkably durable, and scored a remarkable amount of goals. He was rewarded with a new contract earlier this year — perhaps as part of Chelsea’s anticipatory moves ahead of a potential transfer ban — and looked set to continue doing so into the foreseeable future.
Some of Alonso’s remarkable achievements were certainly helped by not having any sort of proper backup for a remarkably long while, though even when one arrived in January 2018, it took Emerson a full year to truly work his way into the conversation. It’s a bit ironic that he has done so after the five-year extension Marcos signed, but football can be unpredictable like that sometimes.
Whether Emerson’s emergence is due to his own improvement or Alonso finally burning himself out, or, as is usually the case, a combination of various factors and timings, the younger left back now appears to be Sarri’s first-choice. This may not be a permanent changing of the left flank guard — and it’s good to have excellent backups — but Emerson has been getting the nod in the Premier League lately, starting 3 of the last 6 and each of the last two (while getting rotated for midweek games).
And that’s giving the 24-year-old former AS Roma man renewed confidence not just for this season, but for the seasons ahead.
“I try to improve every day and I know that I need to improve every day because I want to stay here and keep playing for Chelsea in the Premier League.”
But first things first, meeting minimum expectations this season and qualifying for next year’s Champions League.
“I am confident. That’s what we’re aiming for, the top four. We have a good chance to make it, the other teams competing for the top four, they have to play each other, and we deserve it I think. We have a good chance. The season has not been fantastic, but I think we deserve to be in the top four and we have a good chance to be there.
“It’s very important, not just for me, for everyone. The Champions League is the biggest club competition there is and we always talk in the dressing room about how important it is and that we need to play the Champions League at all costs. So we need to just get there.”
And even more immediately, we need to beat Everton, especially after last weekend’s bump in the road.
“...we need to continue being solid at the back, try not to concede and be more determined and create more in front of goal. [Against Wolves] what was lacking was a bit in terms of attacking play, movement off the ball, and maybe a bit more determination near the goal, but other than that, we played quite well.”
-Emerson; source: Chelsea FC
Onwards and upwards!