MARCOS ALONSO laid down the gauntlet to Ben Chilwell against Crystal Palace with a stunning performance at left wing-back.
The Spaniard helped the Blues keep a clean sheet and capped off his afternoon by scoring a delightful free-kick as the West Londoners won 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
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Alonso, 30, was replaced by Emerson rather than Chilwell with five minutes to go and received a rapturous standing ovation from the whole stadium who were keen to recognise his outstanding contribution.
Chilwell, 24, had to prove himself to Thomas Tuchel when the German took over in January – with the former Paris Saint-Germain boss starting Alonso in four of his first six Premier League games in charge.
The England man eventually made the position his own with Alonso limited to four more league starts before the end of the season.
However, the Alonso threat certainly hasn't gone away.
The Spaniard's Blues career looked finish under Frank Lampard.
He was linked with moves to Inter Milan and Barcelona.
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But Tuchel certainly values him and, as we saw last season, is not afraid to leave big stars out the team.
Former Fiorentina star Alonso had a near-perfect first-half against Palace.
Playing in his favoured left wing-back position alongside Antonio Rudiger, Cesar Azpilicueta and the superb Trevoh Chalobah, he looked a constant threat down the flank as Palace struggled to cope with Tuchel's system.
His touch was spot on, his positioning was flawless and he seemed full of confidence going forward.
Palace offered next to nothing going forward but whenever there was a sniff of danger through Jordan Ayew or Wilfried Zaha down the right, Alonso was equal to it.
And in case Tuchel was in any doubt about his value to the team, the ex-Sunderland man showed his quality from set pieces.
The Blues were awarded a free-kick four yards from the corner of the box with 27 minutes on the clock.
And the classy Spaniard stepped up in his trademark languid style and bent it past the stranded Vicente Guaita and into the top right corner with his left foot.
He looked equally impressive after the break.
And he almost added a stunning second just minutes into the half as he caught an inch-perfect cross-field ball on the volley only to see his thunderous effort saved well by Guaita.
He did try and add to his tally again with a free-kick that sailed over soon after.
But all in all it was an excellent afternoon for the man who looked like he may never play for Chelsea again just seven months ago.
Chilwell was benched for the game – most likely as he came back late from the Euros.
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He also stood up and applauded when Alonso's free-kick went in – along with the rest of the subs.
The Blues faithful gave him a warm reception when he went to warm up briefly in the second-half so there is clear affection there.
But he will have to wait for Alonso to put a foot wrong before he can clap back to the fans as a regular starter again.
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