Arsenal’s defence has been a consistent talking point throughout the Premier League season to this point. The inability of the backline has once again caused concerns for Gunners fans. The club failed to keep a clean sheet in their six Premier League fixtures up until their recent clash with Bournemouth before the international break.
During that 1-0 win over the Cherries at the Emirates, the one man whose performance stood out more than most was Calum Chambers. He has seamlessly dropped into the right-back position so far this season and could be a darkhorse pick to continue in that position, even when Hector Bellerin returns to fitness.
The game at the Emirates before the international break was the fourth occasion this season that the 24-year-old has started, and all of them have come in his unfavoured right-back slot. Chambers has endured a difficult career at the Gunners up to this point, which has consisted of two lacklustre loan spells at Middlesbrough and Fulham.
It was expected that the Englishman was going to be sold before a ball was even kicked this season due to the flaws that were on display during these loan spells. Last season was a particularly difficult one for Chambers as he played his part in the downfall of Fulham and their ultimate relegation back to the Championship.
However, this season’s performances have shown that this was a shadow of the player that he really is.
Chambers was the right decision to start the game against the Cherries as he impressed at Old Trafford on the previous matchday. In doing so he was able to keep out Ainsley Maitland-Niles from the starting team for the second consecutive game, and it isn’t much of a surprise that Chambers was the preferred option as he can offer the Gunners better stability at the back.
Maitland-Niles is a winger that has been adapted into the right-back position for convenience. That is clearly shown in his performances this season, as he is much better at going forward and joining the attack than he is at defending his own goal. Chambers is the polar opposite to that, and as he is a natural central defender, he has all the defensive ability to make the Gunners a stronger unit.
The Gunners wasn’t able to flourish in the final third against the Cherries, and that could be why Chambers’ performance stood out so much. While he doesn’t offer the same progression in the final third as Maitland-Niles and Bellerin, he is undoubtedly the best defender out of the trio. And on that Sunday afternoon at the Emirates, he delivered possibly his best performance in an Arsenal shirt this season.
Bellerin’s return to fitness could spell the end of his run in the team, but in truth, his recent performances haven’t given a reason why Chambers should be overlooked. Having Bellerin back in the starting line-up would obviously make the Gunners stronger as he is a natural right-back, but his defensive game still leaves much to be desired.
The Spaniard’s defensive positioning will open up more problems for the Gunners backline. Instead Emery may opt to remain faithful to Chambers and leave him in the starting line-up to help out the two central defenders who both have a mistake in them.
Chambers has also added goals to his game this season as he scored the equalising goal against Aston Villa before the Gunners eventually went on to get the winner. He also had a hand in creating chances for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the most recent clash, which means he is getting more confident in his new position.
Emery should carefully assess his options before taking Chambers out of the starting line-up. His performances have contributed to the online sportsbooks slashing the odds-on Arsenal achieving a top-four finish this season. If you too believe that Arsenal can finish top 4, go on BetAmerica and bet on the Gunners to end the season in a Champions League position.