Marcos Alonso has enjoyed a superb revival at Chelsea to push Ben Chilwell out the side


The blue-shirted player stopped the ball dead on the edge of the box then completely threw his marker with a deft drag-back and spin.

He then chopped inside another defender to work space to shoot. Only the finish was lacking, a left-footed strike that rolled just wide of the far post.

You had to blink to realise the twinkle-toed Chelsea player was Marcos Alonso and not one of the attackers.

This moment, as Chelsea pushed for a killer second goal against Zenit St Petersburg this week, neatly summed up the Spaniard’s fresh lease of life at Stamford Bridge.

Marcos Alonso is enjoying a fresh lease of life at Chelsea after an excellent start this season

The Spaniard was linked with a move away over the summer but is now first choice on the left

The Spaniard was linked with a move away over the summer but is now first choice on the left 

Manager Thomas Tuchel wanted Alonso to stay at Chelsea and hasn't regretted the decision

Manager Thomas Tuchel wanted Alonso to stay at Chelsea and hasn’t regretted the decision

Alonso was seemingly on the verge of a move away from Chelsea in the summer. Now, a month into the season, he has reclaimed the left wing-back position from Ben Chilwell and is performing as well as ever.

A 30-year-old whose time at Chelsea looked over after Thomas Tuchel benched him for much of the second half of last season has suddenly become indispensable.

Alonso has started every match so far this season, curled home a sumptuous free-kick against Crystal Palace on the opening day and captained the side against Aston Villa.

His crossing has become an asset for a Chelsea attack carrying greater physicality since Romelu Lukaku’s return and his defensive resilience at Liverpool helped them cope after Reece James was sent off.

Alonso looks far from a mere placeholder until Chilwell gets up to speed again but Tuchel’s first choice in a key position that carries both offensive and defensive responsibility.

How Alonso has performed in Chelsea's opening games of the season with Sofascore

How Alonso has performed in Chelsea’s opening games of the season with Sofascore 

Alonso opened the season with an excellent free-kick in Chelsea's 3-0 win over Crystal Palace

Alonso opened the season with an excellent free-kick in Chelsea’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace

He was linked with a move to Inter Milan over the summer, a return to Serie A five years after Chelsea paid £24million to bring him from Fiorentina.

There was talk of a swap deal with Achraf Hakimi but Tuchel intervened and insisted Alonso would be staying. Hakimi would ultimately join Paris Saint-Germain.

Tuchel’s decision surprised quite a few despite the fact the German brought Alonso back in from the cold after Frank Lampard ostracised him at the start of the season.

Lampard had given Alonso a furious dressing down in front of his team-mates after the player didn’t take too kindly to being hooked at half-time with Chelsea 3-0 down to West Brom and went to the team bus.

When Tuchel replaced the fired Lampard in January, everyone was given a clean slate and Alonso was reintegrated, finding the 3-4-3 formation to his liking having thrived as a wing-back under Antonio Conte.

Alonso's form has pushed Ben Chilwell down the pecking order in the left wing-back position

Alonso’s form has pushed Ben Chilwell down the pecking order in the left wing-back position

Chilwell (left, with Jack Grealish) spent Euro 2020 warming the bench with England

Chilwell (left, with Jack Grealish) spent Euro 2020 warming the bench with England

Chelsea fixtures 

Premier League unless stated

Sunday Tottenham (A)

September 22 Aston Villa (H)

Carabao Cup third round

September 25 Manchester City (H)

September 29 Juventus (A)

Champions League

October 2 Southampton (H)

October 16 Brentford (A)

Yet it was Chilwell given the nod by Tuchel in the big European games as Chelsea won the Champions League, with Alonso playing essentially every other game in the league.

This season, however, things have flipped around. Chilwell wasn’t able to hold down the left-back position for England at Euro 2020, with Gareth Southgate favouring Luke Shaw, and the team’s run to the final meant a late return for pre-season.

So not only was Alonso kept by Chelsea but he then seized his opportunity to impress having profited from a full build-up to the new campaign.

The onus now is on Chilwell, who has played only seven minutes of the season so far, to take the next chance that comes his way.

Tuchel explained the situation earlier this week: ‘[Chilwell] came from a Champions League win and from 90 minutes and a strong performance [in the final] and had a good end of the season in general.

‘Then it was individually for him a tough Euros because there were chances I think when he thought he could have played, and he did not.

Alonso was ostracised by Frank Lampard after a bust-up during a match away to West Brom

Alonso was ostracised by Frank Lampard after a bust-up during a match away to West Brom

Thomas Tuchel's arrival meant a fresh chance and Alonso scored against Burnley in January

Thomas Tuchel’s arrival meant a fresh chance and Alonso scored against Burnley in January 

‘It was hard for him to totally relax and to get this personal disappointment, that he would never put out on the team, off his shoulders.

‘And when he arrived here [for pre-season] I felt he was a bit mentally tired, a bit still worrying about the situation.

‘Marcos was here the whole pre-season, he did every single training session and he took this opportunity and was so, so great with such huge quality and attitude.

‘So Marcos was crucial for us from the first day in training and then he delivered in Chilly’s position. And these are our two specialists for the same position, so this is a tough competition for both of them.

‘We had talks with Chilly about the situation. There are no further worries for Chilly, he has to be patient and keep on training.’

Alonso curled home a spectacular free-kick to launch Chelsea's season against Crystal Palace

Alonso curled home a spectacular free-kick to launch Chelsea’s season against Crystal Palace

He was handed the captain's armband for last weekend's 3-0 win over Aston Villa

He was handed the captain’s armband for last weekend’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa 

Chilwell will no doubt get further chances soon as Chelsea compete on the maximum possible number of fronts this season.

They face a London derby against Tottenham in the Premier League this Sunday then begin their assault on the Carabao Cup at home to Aston Villa next week.

With the FA Cup in the new year, the Champions League ongoing and the FIFA Club World Cup at some point before Christmas, both Chilwell and Alonso will share the burden.

For what it’s worth, it would be worth keeping Alonso in for the clash with Spurs because he has a good record against them.

The Spaniard scored twice, including an 88th-minute winner, in a 2-1 win at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley in August 2017. He also scored what proved the winner in a 2-1 home win in February 2020.  

Alonso’s unexpected revival of fortunes means it is set to be more nip and tuck between him and Chilwell for that left-sided role than most anticipated this season. 

Alonso celebrates scoring Chelsea's winning goal against Tottenham at Wembley in 2017

Alonso celebrates scoring Chelsea’s winning goal against Tottenham at Wembley in 2017

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