Proving the doubters wrong

  • by John Allen
  • Filed: Wednesday, 6th September 2023

I have to admit, I wasn’t Emerson’s biggest fan when he arrived at the London Stadium after his £15m transfer from Chelsea in August 2022. I wasn’t alone with that sentiment either, judging by the response following his first few appearances in a claret and blue shirt.

'Underwhelmed' describes it just about right as far as I was concerned. Some were labelling it a panic buy by David Moyes coming as it did late in the transfer window. A not inexpensive stop-gap to fill the void left by the departure of Arthur Masuaku – himself another underwhelming understudy to the long-serving, ever-reliable Aaron Cresswell. Cress being a permanent fixture in the No.3 shirt since his arrival from Ipswich Town way back in 2014.

Embed from Getty Images

Having become accustomed to the solid, dependable defending of Cresswell, a fantastic professional and an accomplished, reliable performer for so long, Emerson’s performances, when he was called upon, were far from encouraging. In fact they were shaky and downright concerning in those early days – no two ways about it!

There’s no question the Italian arrived with a top-rated CV. A full international for his country, he also had a trio of UEFA Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup winners medals in his personal trophy cabinet.

He clearly had an impressive pedigree. But Emerson had become surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge where Ben Chilwell and the newly arrived Marc Cucurella were deemed to be ahead of him in the first team pecking-order. Although he had just enjoyed a successful season with Olympique Lyonnais in France – which had clearly impressed David Moyes.

Today’s full-backs are no longer seen as just defenders – in fact in some cases, their defensive capabilities now appear secondary to what they can do going forward. Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold is a prime example of that. Defensively he has weaknesses - and is even viewed as somewhat of a liability in that area at times. Offensively though he’s a key player for the reds – and a powerful attacking force for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

It is that more attacking threat down the left that Emerson is now bringing to the current West Ham team. He’s clearly encouraged to go forward when the opportunity arises and his link-up play with Said Benrahma and former Lyon team mate Lucas Paqueta is looking particularly exciting.

Emerson is now without doubt the first choice No.3 – or in his case No.33 – at the club. Talk of finding an imminent replacement for the aging Cresswell appears off the agenda for the manager at the moment.

With many of those originally doubting fans having second thoughts, it’s perfectly feasible of course that Moyes had a change in style in mind for his full-back positions when he originally brought in Emerson. Switching to more of a wing-back system. It’s taken a while for the team to evolve to accommodate a more attack-minded fullback, but the signs are now looking good.

There is also a school of thought that the manager is now working towards a system of three at the back – with the quick and athletic Nayef Aguerd on the left of the trio, able to cover the more frequent darting forward runs from Emerson.

Embed from Getty Images

Much has been made of the possession stats around our two fine wins over Chelsea and Brighton – games many were predicting we would get nothing at all from. Moyes’ counter-attacking policy in both games proving incredibly successful. I’m sure we’ll see the same set-up again for certain games – the upcoming visit of Manchester City for one.

But with the team’s attacking qualities boosted by the arrival of James Ward-Prowse and now Mohammed Kudus – and another three points in the bag from the win at Luton - I’m certain we’ll see a more adventurous approach to games begin to evolve. I’m equally sure Emerson Palmieri will continue to provide a growing influence in that direction.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the highlighted author/s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of

More Opinion