Chelsea have won their first three Premier League matches under Maurizio Sarri. After a period of uncertainty during the summer, the Blues have quickly adapted to life under the Italian. A number of players have made a good impression on their new manager, but Marcos Alonso has been the standout. The left-back shone under Antonio Conte in a left wing-back role, which gave him freedom to get forward and influence the game in the attacking half.
There were doubts regarding his ability to do this under Sarri as the former Napoli coach plays with a back four. Alonso has been switched to a more conventional left-back role, but he has continued to cause problems for opposition defences. When the team has possession, Jorginho stays deep, allowing the two full-backs to get forward down the flanks, with the wingers operating as inside forwards.
Although there are roles for each player to carry out, the formation is fluid and there is freedom for players to roam across the pitch. Alonso has taken full advantage of that, as he is regularly found in attacking wide and central positions. He continues to have a big role in the opposition half and that was evident against Newcastle during the weekend.
The Spaniard has 108 touches of the ball, which was the fifth-most of any player on the pitch. His pass success rate of 91% underlines how reliable he is with the ball at his feet. Alonso rarely gives the ball away, despite having possession in dangerous areas of the pitch.
On Sunday, Alonso may not have been credited with a goal or an assist, but he had a hand in both goals at St James’ Park. It was his dribble into the area that caused the tackle from Fabian Schar that resulted in a penalty being awarded to Chelsea. Newcastle will fee hard done by, as it was a harsh penalty award. However, the tackle was rash and the panic that caused it was created by the Spanish left-back.
The winner was an own goal scored by DeAndre Yedlin. The initial shot was taken by Alonso. The power and direction of the strike caused the American to stick a boot out at the ball to divert it home. This underlined another strength of the left-back’s game, as his physicality and anticipation make him a threat at set-pieces.
It has now been two weeks in a row where Alonso has had a big influence on the final result. Last weekend, he scored and assisted against Arsenal. Meanwhile, his defensive contributions remain important. Against Newcastle, he completed 100% of his tackles and made six clearances.
The Premier League season has only just begun, but Chelsea look set to have an impressive debut campaign under Maurizio Sarri. The team are still adapting to his tactical style and already have maximum points on the board. Alonso has quickly adapted to the tactical shift without losing his attacking influence, which is highly impressive. There is no doubting his position as one of the best full-backs in the league, whether utilised as a left-back or left wing-back.