Back in September, Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker made his return to the team at White Hart Lane after weeks out.
The first game he missed due to illness was against Liverpool, a match which saw Calum Chambers struggle throughout the first half. The Englishman was playing his first game of the season and improved after the break, but did struggle with Liverpool’s intense pressure early on.
In that League Cup north London derby, Mertesacker was paired by Chambers at the heart of the Arsenal defence and they formed a very solid looking partnership.
An own goal aside, Chambers’ performance was excellent and his vice-captain knows there’s even more to come.
“He’s a good guy and we challenge each other every single day in training,” the German told Arsenal Player, as he continues training and waiting for almost everyone else to return from international duty. “That’s what it’s all about. He’s eager to learn, he really fancies challenging every single centre-back and that’s something you need.”
He has to fancy the challenge, as Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel are ahead of him as well as Mertesacker. At just 20, Chambers has a long future ahead of him and clearly has everything it takes to succeed at Arsenal.
Both Mertesacker and Koscielny have entered their thirties, so are Gabriel and Chambers the next Arsenal centre-half pairing? Not yet says the German, who insists even he is still improving thanks to the competition Chambers provides.
“When you step up as a young talent, you need to challenge the old lads. It’s really good to have him so that we can improve. You never stop working, you never stop doing things because there’s someone behind you – in a respectful way – who is giving absolutely everything in every single training session.
“That’s what my feeling is. When he does that, he’s got a great chance to develop as one of the top centre-backs.”
Arsenal will need that. At £16m, Chambers seemed to be an expensive 19-year-old but as time goes on he’s likely to look like a bargain. Mark Per’s words, the Englishman could become one of the top defenders.