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Emerson happy with chance to play, explains why he kept drifting inside

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Left back in name only

FBL-ENG-FA CUP-CHELSEA-MORECAMBE Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images

Emerson Palmieri got to make his ninth appearance and just fourth start this season in last night’s 4-0 win over Morecambe, and while the occasion wasn’t all that glamorous — lower league opposition in a secondary competition with no fans in the stadium — Emerson still appreciated the opportunity to play and the opportunity to put a much-needed win in the results column for the club.

Beating a fourth division side won’t reduce the pressure much, if at all, on the manager or the players, but it certainly won’t increase it either. (Nor will it pour any cold water on the Emerson exit rumors, even if he’s clearly the preferred backup to Ben Chilwell ahead of the long-forgotten Marcos Alonso.)

“I feel good because I’m training hard every day, I’m always ready when the manager puts me on the pitch and I try to do my best. The game yesterday was very important for us because in the last game we lost. So the most important thing was to have a solid game and get the victory, like we did.”

One very noticeable feature of Emerson’s play was his tendency to drift inside, often popping up in central positions in and around the penalty area, and even having several pops at goal. He may have lined up as the left back on the team sheet, but didn’t stay there too often.

Compare his heat map to right back César Azpilicueta’s, for example:

Emerson (top blob) vs Azpilicueta (bottom blob) heat map
WhoScored

Apparently, this was a specific wrinkle that Chelsea tried to implement yesterday, instead of the usual full back overlap of the winger on the left flank. Chelsea’s attacking patterns have become rather predictable and staid over the past few weeks, so it was nice to see some variation in that regard, even if it didn’t quite pay off (and Emerson did get in Havertz’s way once, for example).

Overall, Chelsea showed a fair amount of fluidity, especially in the second half, even if the level of the opposition wasn’t very high.

“I tried [to score] three times, it didn’t happen in this game, but I’m happy for the team and the result.

“Callum, Hakim or Christian, they like to stay between the lines, so for me I have the space for the overlap. Or yesterday, Callum stayed high more with me inside, so this is a good connection. It depends on the opponent and we try to move the defenders.”

-Emerson; source: Chelsea FC

Given the emphasis placed on this match, as evidenced by Lampard’s starting lineup, let’s hope we can indeed build on this and put a nice winning run together.

Next up: Fulham.