It’s been a rough time at Arsenal for Mathieu Debuchy.
After a move to the tune of £10m, the former Newcastle United man joined up with his new teammates and played just six times before ankle ligament damage saw him miss over three months. A return to action in December 2014 lasted just one month before a dislocated shoulder meant the French international needed surgery.
Another lengthy spell on the sidelines allowed Héctor Bellerín’s incredible rise to prominence and the rest appears to be history. The 20-year-old Spaniard is currently out with a groin problem, but Debuchy had failed to impress when given a chance to play this season.
He is yet to play in the Premier League since the opening day defeat to West Ham United, and there are good reasons. Namely, they are Dinamo Zagreb, Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield Wednesday. Wednesday’s defeat to Bayern Munich came against a top side, but the other performances Debuchy has given this season are a huge cause for concern.
Against Dinamo Zagreb and Spurs in particular, Debuchy was often far too central when defending. As a defender you can’t constantly rely on a midfield to cover the space outside you, but Debuchy was doing just that and Arsenal were left open at the back repeatedly.
With Spurs likely to play Danny Rose at left-back, any space left outside Debuchy will be attacked repeatedly. Though they like to flood the middle of the pitch, Spurs attack down the left more often than the right and will punish Arsenal should the same frailties appear once more.
Without Héctor Bellerín, the alternative is Calum Chambers. Maligned after a performance against Swansea City last season, he was actually solid at right-back for much of the campaign. Similarly to Bellerín, he’s safer than Debuchy in possession. The younger duo both pass more conservatively, while being better when attempting to go by their man one-one-one.
At least with the ball, against a Spurs team which will press intensely, Chambers would be the safer option in defence.
More conservative when passing, better when dribbling and a greater final ball. Arsenal will badly need all three against Pochettino’s side.