Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso is the best left-back in Europe but he can improve, says Maurizio Sarri

he Spaniard was again supreme going forward in the side’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, constantly causing problems with his own efforts and setting up Eden Hazard’s goal

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Saturday 01 September 2018 18:05
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Chelsea 2018/19 Premier League profile

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri praised Marcos Alonso as “maybe the best left-back in Europe” and potentially the outright best in the world – if he improves his defensive play. The Spaniard was again supreme going forward in the side’s 2-0 win over Bournemouth, constantly causing problems with his own efforts, and helping set up Eden Hazard’s win-sealing goal.

There was some controversy as he seemed to be involved in an incident with Adam Smith that could have brought a second yellow card, but Alonso stayed on to earn praise from his new manager.

“Alonso, at the moment, [in] this position at left-back is maybe the best in Europe,” Sarri said. “Physical qualities at a top level, I think. He’s doing very well in the offensive phase. But I also think he can improve in the defensive phase. If he improves that, he could be the best left-back in the world.”

Sarri had previously warned that Chelsea could be in for a somewhat stuttering start to the season as he strives to impose his distinctive way of playing, but have instead won all four of their opening games.

“At the moment I’m very happy with my players. They improved very well during the week and in matches. I’m really very happy to have 12 points from four matches, but I always think we can do more. We can improve. Especially in the performance, of course. We can improve.

Marcos Alonso hits the post with a right-footed shot

“I am happy with the result and I am happy with the performance. It was a very difficult game. They are very organised defensively, and defended very well. The first half, the situation was difficult. Maybe we needed to move the ball at another speed, and maybe more movements without the ball. But in this kind of match, usually you can win in the last 20-25 minutes. So I was always confident.”

“I think that, now, for us it’s better to think about the next match. The gap at the beginning was 30 points [to Manchester City last season]. I think it’s very difficult to recover this gap in only one season. I’m very happy with the four matches, but I think only, starting from now, about the next match. Not until the end of the season.”

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe however expects Chelsea to greatly improve.

“I thought we did well for long periods of the game. Chelsea are a different team this year, a totally different way of playing. They’ll be a difficult team to play against, but we nullified their strengths and had the best two chances, chances we didn’t take and we paid the penalty for that with a cruel deflection off Steve Cook.

“I think they’ll improve as the season goes on. Maurizio has a very distinct way of playing, really difficult to play against. We prepared well and tried to nullify their threats as well as we could, tried to make it difficult for the individual talents to hurt us. The game was in the balance up to that first goal.”

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