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Emerson vs Alonso

Picture Credit: We Ain't Got No History With the summer transfer window looming on the other side of the pandemic, the rumour mill...

Picture Credit: We Ain't Got No History

With the summer transfer window looming on the other side of the pandemic, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive. Despite nearly all club-related activities coming to a full stop, virtual transfer negotiations and video-scouting could be flourishing ahead of what could be a very huge window for the club. The transfer ban and our inactivity in the market in January sees us top the list of clubs willing to spend big. And with our owner’s (reported) insistence on making a marquee statement signing, it could be exciting times indeed, building on our young core. However, in order to make this marquee signing, we need to free up funds by moving on some of the deadwood in our squad, along with snapping up some players on a cheap fee. Hakim Ziyech is one of the prime examples of this - signing a player of his quality for about 35 million pounds portrays just how shrewd a businesswoman Marina Granovskaia is.

It is no secret that Chelsea is in the market for a left-back with both Emerson and Marcos Alonso failing to convince Frank Lampard, which has led the experienced Azpilicueta featuring in that position. Ben Chilwell who has been a long term target of the club is linked, along with Porto’s Alex Telles which seems more likely to go through after he rejected a contract extension with the Portuguese club. Should we complete the signing of any of them, then keeping both our current options at the club would be completely pointless. So in this article, we shall be looking at Emerson and Marcos Alonso in-depth, while finally deciding who we should be keeping at the club beyond the summer.

Marcos Alonso was signed upon the request of Antonio Conte in 2016 from Fiorentina to play the left-wing back role in his famous three at the back system. And it turned into a masterstroke, with the Spaniard being one of the best players in our title-winning campaign. However, the added burden of European football in the following season proved too much for him, and Emerson was signed from Roma in January 2017 to provide cover for Alonso. His appearances, however, were limited as he was still recovering from a serious injury when he was signed. Under new boss Maurizio Sarri, Alonso hit the ground running and was awarded a new contract. Soon, his form fizzled out, and his woeful positional sense cost Chelsea on more than one occasion. Due to this, Emerson finally got provided with an opportunity to gain some first-team action on a consistent basis. He repaid Sarri’s faith by putting in some promising performances, and eventually sealed his place as the first choice left-back by the conclusion of the season.

This summer brought about another change at the helm, with Frank Lampard taking over the reins as the manager of Chelsea. Emerson was Lampard’s preferred player for the left-back position, starting the first four Premier League games, as well as featuring for the full 120 minutes in our Super Cup defeat to Liverpool. After a minor knock to Emerson, Alonso was called upon at the Molineux, with Lampard opting to match Wolves’ formation. The Italian full-back was seemingly rushed back from injury as he had to be taken off on a stretcher after just 15 minutes in our home defeat to Liverpool. This injury kept him out of the side for a considerable period of time and was a huge miss for the Blues as he was incredible in the first few games. So incredible that many fans (including myself) started doubting if it was worth spending cash on a left-back at all. Looking back at it now, it seemed like the most foolish thought that crossed our mind this season.

Marcos Alonso’s introduction to the team was simplified by the fact that Lampard decided to mirror Conte’s three at the back system temporarily. Upon Emerson’s return, he simply wasn’t the same player anymore. Therefore, Azpilicueta was the man tasked with playing the left-back position. Alonso was called upon every time we played three at the back, but rarely for four at the back. He did put in some great performances though- scoring almost every time he’s started. He is also our top scorer in the Premier League in 2020. Recently the Spaniard played left-back against Liverpool and Everton, and Chelsea managed to keep a clean sheet against both, blowing them out of the water. If anything, this simply confuses us further. Let us now look at some stats then (source: Whoscored): 

Despite featuring for nearly 200 minutes more than his compatriot, Emerson is yet to contribute to a single goal or assist this season, while Alonso has managed four goals and two assists. This figure is slightly inflated due to his position being more advanced than Emerson’s, but no one can deny Alonso’s left foot has a wicked shot. Alonso naturally leads in shots per game, and also aerial duels won (2.4 to Emerson’s 1.1). However, Emerson leads in the passing department, completing 85.2% of his passes to Alonso’s 81.9%.

It may come as a surprise that Alonso completes more tackles than Emerson per game (1.8 to 1.6), although there is a minute difference. Alonso also clears the ball more often (1.3 to 1). They both complete the same interceptions per game (1.3). Though it might appear the have similar aspects defensively, the major difference comes in the form of dribbled past per game. While Emerson gets dribbled past 0.4 times per game, Alonso gets dribbled past a whopping 1.1 times per game. This indicates his inability to hold his ground and lack of positional awareness, which is emphasized by the fact that Emerson catches an opponent in an offside position more times per game than the Spaniard.

Despite Alonso having more goals and assists to his name, Emerson dominates the attacking stats. While they complete the same number of key passes per game at 1.4, Emerson completes more dribbles per game (0.9 to 0.5), is dispossessed fewer times (0.6 to 0.7), and has significantly less bad control per game (1.1 to 1.6). Emerson also completes more crosses than Alonso per game (0.9 to 0.7).


This is a very tough decision to make, as one player is more attacking and has an eye for goal, while the other is more of a complete player, however inconsistent and injury-prone. Alonso is also very comfortably one of the best in the world when it comes to playing the left wing-back position, under someone who regularly uses the three at the back system. Alonso, however, is 29 years of age, while Emerson is 25. So while Alonso is at the twilight of his career, Emerson is still entering his peak. This can be interpreted in two ways- we can warrant a higher price for Emerson as he is younger, or we should keep Emerson at the club and provide useful depth for a long period of time. And with Lampard preferring to use the 4-3-3 system in the long term, we should keep Emerson. Alonso is a good option to have every time we play three at the back, but how often are we going to use that system? Maybe 5-6 times throughout the entire season, and is it worth keeping someone on that wage for 5-6 games in an entire season? Besides, several clubs in Italy (especially one of our former manager’s) seem to really like Alonso, so it is time to sell him. If Emerson can reproduce even half of the level of performances he put in at the beginning of the season, he would be an excellent squad option, with a new left-back acquisition almost a certainty.

Written By: Ameya
Twitter: @LampardsLegacy

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