Héctor Bellerín is enjoying an unbelievable breakthrough season, and broke the deadlock in the 4-1 defeat of Liverpool early on Saturday afternoon.
Backing up Aaron Ramsey on the right hand-side, Bellerín aided the fast start Arsenal enjoyed, pressing Liverpool wingback Alberto Moreno as well as attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho and forcing the away side to make a number of mistakes on the ball in their own third.
In the 37th minute, Bellerín gave Arsenal the lead. Mesut Özil found Aaron Ramsey on the right wing, and our newest Spanish star made a very smart undercutting run. Found by Ramsey, Bellerín took the invitation from Moreno to go inside, before sumptuously bending the ball into the far corner with his weaker left foot.
Arsenal, as Bellerín’s career promises to, took off from that moment.
A second goal was added quickly enough, and Bellerín himself played a key part in our third goal in just eight minutes. Winning a loose ball just over the halfway line, Bellerín found Aaron Ramsey with a brilliant pass through the lines. The Welshman controlled well before Alexis Sánchez took over and scored.
The second half saw a bigger test for Bellerín, but he showed the crucial ability to defend against a pacey winger. Raheem Sterling moved out to that side, and the onus in the second half was more on Bellerín’s defensive attributes rather than his ability to help us going forward.
Sterling was more lively out wide, but didn’t threaten Bellerín all too often.
Scope for improvement
That doesn’t mean his performance was without fault. Bellerín showed some ‘old-head’ stuff blocking off runs throughout the game, but was booked for a cynical block in the 70th minute.
Just five minutes later, he fouled Sterling to gift Liverpool a penalty. An unnecessary challenge which was mistimed, he may be considered fortunate not to have been shown a second yellow card.
The first half saw Arsenal’s back four stretched at times, with Bellerín occasionally pulled out wide by the overlapping Moreno.
It is, though, without doubt that Arsenal have a rising star on their hands. Bellerín is intelligent and athletic enough to be a superb defender, with the technical and tactical instincts to make a real difference in the final third.
The fact that he is still learning, just half a season into his professional Arsenal career, is exciting.
Héctor Bellerín could become world class.