After the signing of Pedro Porro, it was expected that Emerson Royal would be dropped from the first eleven. However, his recent form for Tottenham means that he is currently deservedly the starting right back. The pressure is on him to maintain his form and prove why he is good enough to be relied on in Antonio Conte’s system.
Since joining Tottenham, he has been a frustrating player for supporters, as he hasn’t quite clicked in the team. Emerson’s main issue is that his strengths are in his defensive work. In a Conte team, it is expected that the wing-backs provide attacking support and get high to provide the width. Last season, there was often space left down Tottenham’s right, as opposition teams let Emerson have the ball in attacking areas. Quite simply, he wasn’t viewed as a threat.
During the first half of the season, he shared minutes with Matt Doherty, with neither player managing to nail down a regular starting berth. It speaks volumes about how Emerson was viewed that Tottenham prioritised signing an attacking right wing-back. Pedro Porro arrived with a growing reputation due to his impressive attacking record in Portugal.
However, Emerson Royal has stepped up his performances in the last month and he was the standout individual during Spurs’ win over West Ham. Conte will have been happy to see the first goal, as it is an attacking pattern that has become trademarked by his teams. He wants to see goals scored by one wing-back, assisted by the other. This time, it was Ben Davies assisting Emerson Royal, who finished smartly. Weirdly, they are two ‘defensive’ wing-backs, therefore it would have been even more pleasing to see them thriving in an attacking role.
The defensive reliability that Emerson brings to the side can’t be ignored. In his last three Premier League starts, Tottenham have kept a clean sheet. He was dropped for Porro for the trip to Leicester City, a match that saw Spurs concede four goals. It would be too simplistic to say that was purely down to the choice of right wing-back, but it is an interesting wrinkle to note.
During the match against West Ham United, Emerson Royal had two shots and made two key passes. This showed that he can be a threat in the final third. The movement he made for his goal showed instincts that he previously hasn’t in the final third. On the ball, he was reliable in possession, finishing the match with a pass completion of 93%. Out of the starting eleven, only Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had a higher success rate.
Without the ball, he showed his impressive reading of the game, as West Ham didn’t create a lot down his flank. During the game, Emerson Royal made two tackles and five clearances, as he played his part in a clean sheet.
It was a positive weekend for the Brazilian, as the Tottenham fans acknowledged by chanting his name. Emerson Royal has taken a while to feel comfortable in North London. It may be that the added competition is exactly what he needed to find his best form.
Although it is likely that Pedro Porro is going to get into the starting eleven sooner rather than later, there is no rush for Conte to make this transition. If Emerson Royal maintains his form, it will be difficult to drop him. When that switch is made, Porro will need to perform considerably better than he did at Leicester City. Otherwise, he will be the one warming the bench, with Emerson Royal in the team.