With Shkodran Mustafi and Per Mertesacker hopefully being fit enough to play next week against Stoke, there will be some changes to Arsenal’s starting XI.
However, which players will go out of the team is uncertain. Sead Kolašinac has been one of our top performers at the start of this season, so will probably retain a spot in the line-up, and hopefully move to his preferred left wing-back. This would mean that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could lose his spot, but should he?
The other option would be to move him to right wing-back, meaning Hector Bellerin could lose his spot. Wenger has a number of options to think about before our away game to Stoke. Primarily, if Ox or Bellerin should start at right wing-back. For me, it should be the Ox for these five reasons.
I feel it’s important to start with this point. Bellerin just hasn’t been playing well for quite a while.
When in form he can be a brilliant player but for whatever reason, whether that be injury or the whole Barcelona saga playing on his mind, he just hasn’t been with it.
Ox, who struggles with consistency, has begun the season in the better form than the young Spaniard.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has started the season relatively well, particularly with his dribbling. In previous campaigns, he sometimes made poor decisions on when to try and beat the man and was caught out, exposing our defence.
However, this season he has been choosing wisely, especially in the last game against Leicester. He took on the Leicester defence nine times, being successful on eight occassions.
Compare that to Bellerin, who had three take-ons, in which he was only successful once. There’s no real comparison in this department, Bellerin is quick, but never really looks in control of the ball.
Ox, on the other hand, usually has a lot of space to run into as a wing-back, leading to his more successful dribbles.
Neither of these players are renowned for their crossing skills, but I feel Ox currently edges it in this area.
For one, he is a lot more ambidextrous when compared to Bellerin. He did cut in a few times while at left wing-back, but the fact he was trusted to play in that position instead of Hector should give a good indication of what Wenger things about it.
Bellerin is very reluctant to ever use his left foot, even for simple passes. Furthermore, his crossing is often too low and blocked by the first man.
Against Leicester, Bellerin did not attempt a single cross, while the Ox attempted seven (only one of them were successful, but beggars can’t be choosers).
Now this is where you would think Bellerin would be superior to Oxlade-Chamberlain, but judging from the start of the season, it’s close. Rob Holding had a poor game against Leicester and though a lot of that was down to him, he rarely had any support from Bellerin.
The Spaniard concentrated on his offensive duties a lot more than his defensive, which should always be his primary focus. He made one clearance and zero interceptions against Leicester, while he won 50% of his four tackles, indicating he wasn’t heavily involved in defence.
On the other hand, the Ox won three of his four tackles and intercepted the ball three times, as well as making 5 clearances. Importantly, Oxlade-Chamberlain made two blocks, compared to Bellerin’s zero. Considering all of Leicester’s goals in open play came from crosses on the right-hand side, Bellerin perhaps should have been more involved to prevent those.
So for me, Ox would start at right wing-back. However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. With Holding low on confidence, maybe it would be better to put Bellerin at right centre-back, allowing the Ox to play at right wing-back.
Hopefully with some actual centre-back coming back into the team and players going to their preferred positions, our defence will look a lot more solid against Stoke.