At the start of November, injury ruled Héctor Bellerín out of two of the biggest games of the season.
On Monday, he will face his biggest challenge of the season so far.
Having gotten to grips with Douglas Costa after a tricky first half against the Bayern Munich winger back in October, Bellerín wasn’t able to face the Brazilian at the Allianz Arena thanks to a groin injury.
It came off the back of a win at Swansea, possibly Bellerín best performance of the entire season, but he hasn’t been the same since. The 20-year-old has struggled for form in recent matches against West Brom, Norwich City, Sunderland and Olympiacos and can’t afford another blip on Monday night.
A huge game against Manchester City will see Bellerín come up against Raheem Sterling and Aleksandr Kolarov, who have developed a superb understanding on City’s left wing since the Englishman’s summer move from Liverpool. Typically, Sterling cuts inside from the left – or receives the ball just inside from the wing – and stalls while Kolarov makes his move. Keeping the defenders on their toes, Sterling’s delicate touches prevent players from diving in. As Kolarov arrives, the ball is played in front of him, where he can whip it across goal or towards the far corner.
It’s a move City have completed over and over again this season, and it’s one Bellerín will need to look out for. Moreover, his midfielders will need to help him. That means Mathieu Flamini or Aaron Ramsey will have to aid him when Sterling comes inside, and Joel Campbell (assuming he starts on the right once again) will either have to track Kolarov or free Bellerín to cut out the pass.
Last season Bellerín excelled in the 4-1 home defeat of Liverpool, but Sterling still won a penalty from him. The Englishman struggled in the middle early on but got much more joy when he was on the left and could isolate the Arsenal defender one-on-one.
Whether or not Arsenal adequately blunt the danger that City’s left side will pose will likely decide the outcome of Monday evening’s match. Now would be the perfect time for Héctor to recapture his early season form.