Hector Bellerin wore the captain’s armband at Anfield on Wednesday, and despite the result, he came out of the game with a lot of credit.
For a start, Bellerin was one of the only defensive players to perform to a good level against Liverpool. It was his actions around the actual performance that helped win favour with the supporters though.
It started with the pre-match walkout, where Bellerin was spotted giving his jacket to a young mascot who was cold.
Captain Hector Bellerin gives his track suit top to the cold mascot. Nice touch. pic.twitter.com/SUl6y6MRKn
— Amy Lawrence (@amylawrence71) October 30, 2019
The mascot certainly seemed to appreciate the gesture, beaming as he walked out onto the pitch.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 1, 2019
After Shkodran Mustafi’s early own goal, Bellerin was the first one over to pick him up and get him going again. The captain then stepped up again in the penalty shootout, taking on the first kick despite the fact he’s a defender.
When the final kick was taken and Arsenal were eliminated, Bellerin came over to the away supporters and handed over his shirt to an excited fan.
Combine this with Bellerin’s response to the Granit Xhaka situation.
In private, he reportedly reminded Unai Emery of the similar criticism he faced a few years ago, and the way he bounced back from that. In public, he hit all the right notes with a statement about unity and how we can let our emotions get the best of us.
We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it's not easy dealing with them. It's time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together. #COYG pic.twitter.com/dkDI7M3xew
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) October 28, 2019
This isn’t to say we should be calling for Bellerin to replace Xhaka as captain. That response would be counter to the whole statement he’s making about sticking together. We’re just glad to have the 24-year-old in the captain’s group this year.