Saturday the 14th of July saw the start of Unai Emery’s reign at Arsenal with an 8-0 friendly victory away at Boreham Wood.
Some of the positive to take from the game were a hattrick in the opening 20 minutes from Aubameyang and impressive cameos from the likes of Emile Smith-Rowe, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Aside from the impressive list of double-barrelled surnames, an interesting inclusion was Calum Chambers playing the second half in central midfield rather than his usual centre-half position.
This isn’t something that Emery has been afraid to do in the past when he shifted Stephane M’bia from centre back to central midfield at Sevilla.
After the game, Chambers said that Emery had spoken to him about changing his position and that it’s one he could grow to enjoy.
“It’s an important position. If you can get on the ball, turn & break their lines then it kills their press & anyone who’s playing in there needs to learn how to do that.
“Obviously, you can’t do it all the time & when it’s not on you can bounce it backwards.”
This isn’t the first time Chambers has played in midfield.
He played there for periods as he was growing up but the best sample we have to evaluate is his performance vs Bournemouth in December 2015 where he played the full 90 minutes in midfield in a comfortable 2-0 win.
In this game, Chambers enjoyed a 90% passing accuracy, 67% aerial duels won, three interceptions, three clearances and six blocks.
Aside from this, a feature of his game was his ability to receive the ball with his back to goal and still distribute it well amidst the Bournemouth press. His ability to carry the ball was also impressive.
He was able to break lines with both passing and dribbling the ball and found Mesut Ozil in dangerous areas on numerous occasions. The added freedom to express himself looked to suit him.
It was a raw performance but one that showed promise and judging by Chambers quotes and new contract, it will be something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in future.