For well over two years, following Antonio Conte’s fateful switch to a three-man defense with wing-backs, Marcos Alonso had exclusive domain over the Chelsea left flank. In part, this was due to not having any proper backups (only an out of position Kenedy, Azpilicueta, or Zappacosta), but a large part of it was down to Alonso’s own qualities, especially in attack and on set pieces.
This season, both of those factors have changed a bit. A fully healthy Emerson, who was still recovering from an ACL injury while also trying to adjust to the Premier League last year, is finally showing the qualities that made him one of the Serie A’s standouts at the position a couple years ago. Meanwhile, the miles had finally caught up to Alonso, leading to multiple subpar performances and high-profile errors over the winter. Emerson appeared to jump to the top of the pecking order, starting 3 of 4 games including the League Cup final. Alonso was back in the lineup against Spurs 72 hours after that, which could’ve been simply due to fitness, which he himself showed the benefits of by putting in a solid shift.
Now, Sarri’s got options and decisions to make.
“You have to accept a player cannot stay at the top of the physical condition or mental condition for 11 months. We were lucky because in that period we had a very good moment for Emerson. Now I think Marcos started to return to his best.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Chelsea FC
Alonso signed a new long-term contract earlier this season, so he’s certainly not going anywhere nor should he be written off. But it’s nice to see Emerson starting come into his own as well. Having two good options for one position is never a bad thing.