Ray Wilkins believes the Hector Bellerin of old would not have been beaten by Richarlison, which led to a penalty in Saturday’s meeting with Watford.
Amidst the controversy surrounding the penalty decision in the 2-1 defeat at Watford, Wilkins has opted to discuss Bellerin’s decline in form. The Spaniard was beaten for pace by Richarlison and was forced to concede a penalty, even if it was a soft one.
Wilkins believes that the Bellerin of three or four years ago would not have been beaten in a one-on-one and has regressed as a player.
“What I would say is when I first saw this young man Bellerin come into English football, three, four years ago, he had dynamic pace,” he said, as reported by the Daily Star.
“He was all over the pitch and I thought ‘my word, Arsene’s dug up one there, what a footballer’. He wouldn’t have been beaten in that situation by Richarlison.
“Richarlison gets the final touch, there is minimal contact and he goes over, but unfortunately minimal contact in the modern-day game can mean a penalty kick.
“Bellerin for me has gone slightly backwards from the player I first saw three or four years ago. This fella was one of the outstanding full-backs I had seen in many a year to be honest. He would never have been beaten in that situation.”
The Bellerin of three or four years ago was only just becoming a first-team regular at Arsenal. He had a difficult start as a senior Gunner, but grew into the team and eventually beat out Mathieu Debuchy as the first-choice right-back.
Bellerin’s form during the 2014/15 season was excellent, but his development has stagnated recently. The right back still as explosive pace, but hasn’t improved as much in attacking areas as fans would have liked.
He’s also struggled with his defending, and hasn’t been at his best for a while. At 22, though, he still has plenty of time to improve his game and rediscover the form that made him one of the most exciting defenders around.