Our game against Leicester City is imminent and, contrary to our predictions, Hector Bellerin is starting, while Calum Chambers doesn’t even make the bench.
Is playing Bellerin the right option or should he have been given a rest after his performance against Spurs?
Sub-par against Spurs
Bellerin last featured in our loss against That Lot. Although the whole team were to blame for what was a lacklustre and disappointing performance overall, Bellerin stood out, especially in the first half.
During the match, he was persistently dragged inwards, marking Spurs midfielder Christian Erikson too closely, thus allowing Danny Rose to overlap in acres of space.
Although our own Danny Welbeck contributed to this issue by not getting stuck into the defensive work enough, Bellerin being pulled centrally happened repeatedly, frustrating pretty much the entire Gooner population (R.I.P. Gooner keyboards everywhere).
The player being dropped, however, is more likely to be down to resting the player than the result of having one poor game.
Until the match against Spurs, Bellerin had been developing steadily.
In ten appearances in all competitions, the young Spaniard has a decent interception rate and, on average, a better tackle rate than Calum Chambers. He’s extraordinarily nippy down that wing and also gives away less fouls than Chambers and 29 year old Mathieu Debuchy, who’s currently recovering from a dislocated shoulder.
In fact, on paper, not much separates Debuchy from the youngster, except for his experience, although of course stats don’t necessarily tell the whole story. It’s interesting to consider that the Frenchman may not just simply waltz back into the first team upon reaching full fitness.
Bellerin has matured into the first team well since the other right back fell ill and was benched in January.
He’s been involved in some key matches of the Gunners and featured in our impressive 2-0 away win against Man City, where he and Francis Coquelin excelled. He even netted his first goal for the club in the dying moments of our 5-0 home win against Villa two games ago – not bad for a right back.
Should he have been rested?
The question is, then, is resting Bellerin actually the best option for him right now?
It’s been proven that resting football players is crucial when it comes to sustained fitness and, for the record, I do believe that he’s earned a rest.
At Arsenal, we’re also no stranger to injuries, a problem often blamed on Wenger for overplaying our first team. Therefore, it’s more surprising that Wenger has included him in the starting XI.
He’s only 19, about the same age as Jack Wilshere was when his injury woes began. Learning from our mistakes and preserving player’s fitness, especially while still young, is probably an aim the club have in mind.
Mentally, taking a step back from a below-par display and getting some much-needed headspace can also be beneficial.
If the players are too caught up on the last game, they’re not in the right frame of mind for the current game they’re playing and they might make rash decisions, both of which could result in individual errors or worse, injury either to themselves or another player.
Fatigue could in fact be partially to blame for a not-so-great performance; the youngster hasn’t had a run in the first team like this before and the high intensity games are likely to be taking their toll.
If the boss reckons this is the case, resting Bellerin is absolutely the right decision. He knows better than us, despite what some on Twitter like to think.
On the other hand, so often players talk about the metaphorical ‘getting back on the horse’ mentality.
German centreback Per Mertesacker even spoke about wanting to bounce back “as quickly as possible” in his post-match interview at the weekend.
After a defeat and poor performance, sometimes it can do a player good to play another game in quick succession. It can give them a chance to right any wrongs they made in the previous game and can be great for morale, providing they do improve.
However, Chambers also needs game time and before being replaced by Bellerin, was dribbling his way into the hearts of most of the fan base.
What do you think?
Should Bellerin be given an immediate chance to prove himself?
Or does he deserve a game out to gather his thoughts, have a rest and get back on his A-game?