Not many people would have thought that the Spanish left-back would have been the signing of the summer when it was announced he had joined Chelsea and few more would hold that view now. However, he has had a hugely positive impact on Chelsea’s season and he made the Blues a much better side. The main thing that Alonso has provided to Chelsea is balance. There aren’t many players in the squad that are capable of playing as a left wing-back. Cesar Azpilicueta could have, but he is required as a centre-back in a three. Alonso wasn’t a signing that excited Chelsea supporters, especially considering his previous spells with Bolton and Sunderland, but he filled a need and it is clear now why he was targeted by Antonio Conte.
Chelsea have surged to the top of the league this season and are currently overwhelming favourites to win the title. We have seen teams cough up a substantial lead to lose top spot, namely Newcastle 1995-6. However, it is expected that Chelsea will win the title from their current position and the main reason for that has been their change to 3-4-3. It has made them much better in both halves of the pitch and Marcos Alonso has been central to the change. He is a regular at left wing-back/left midfield, providing balance to the formation and defensive cover for Eden Hazard who plays ahead of him.
The Spaniard had prior experience in the Premier League as mentioned above and that has helped him make an immediate impact at Stamford Bridge, but the main reason he was targeted was due to his tactical knowledge. The mental side of his game would have developed a lot in Italy and he has been able to quickly adapt to the role that has been given to him by Antonio Conte. He is intelligent at the back, as shown by his numerous ball recoveries, but he also contributes in attack. Alonso has certainly got better during the last couple of months and he is now one of the most consistent players in the side.
Defensively, he is averaging 1.9 tackles, 1.6 interceptions and 3 clearances per game. These are impressive numbers and underline exactly what he brings to the defence. Opposition teams will feel that Chelsea are weakest down their left-hand side, as Hazard isn’t the best off-the-ball, while Gary Cahill is certainly the poorest of the three centre-backs. However, Alonso is a superb defender, capable of handling himself in the air and on the ground. If they didn’t have him, the tactic would be a lot less effective.
Although his main role in the side is to help at the back, Alonso has continually impressed in the attacking half of the pitch. He has scored four goals and contributed two assists, which is a great return for a player selected for his defensive qualities. Chelsea’s main attackers are Pedro, Diego Costa and Eden Hazard, but it is valuable to have other players contributing in the final third and Alonso is certainly doing his bit. His link-up play is normally good and he often goes unnoticed in the final third, as the opposition are more concerned with the array of attacking talent in the Chelsea side.
There have been a lot of players that have enjoyed a good first season at their new clubs, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ngolo Kante and Victor Wanyama. However, none of them have facilitated a tactical change quite in the same way that Alonso has. For this reason, he deserves to be praised as one of the best signings made last summer. He may have lacked the glitz and glamour that many Chelsea signings have possessed under Roman Abramovich, but he has immediately made an impact and made them a much better side.