Arsenal suffered a major blow before even the season started when Per Mertesacker was ruled out for 5 months with an injury. It is no secret that Arsenal does have some problems at the back and Mertesacker and Koscielny partnership is the best defensive pairing at the club. Gabriel Paulista has been too inconsistent while Calum Chambers till now has contributed only by making several errors on the pitch. Mertesacker’s injury thus has put the manager Arsene Wenger on the backfoot again and despite the recent acquisition of Rob Holding from Bolton, the squad is in urgent need of an established defender who would be forming a partnership with Koscielny for the majority of the season.
However, in football things do happen which we don’t think would happen and when they happen, they don’t give the affected party much time to react thus it is absolutely vital that there’s always a backup plan on standby. There have been some reports of Francis Coquelin training in the center back position to step up as a stop gap if necessary but definitely not as someone who would be asked to fill in right from the start at the back. Arsene Wenger almost always uses the Capital One Cup as the platform to give more exposure and playing time to the young players of the reserve team and there have been instances where the manager has fielded the youth players in the early rounds of the F.A Cup as well against lower league oppositions.
Apart from Calum Chambers and Rob Holding, the Gunners have one player in their ranks who can also play as a center back. In fact, the player came to the club as a holding midfielder and was converted to a central defender by the manager. That player is Krystian Bielik. The 6ft 2 in. Pole has all the attributes to play as a defender and so far the manager has given some real indications of his participation in the upcoming season in that particular role in the friendlies.
Bielik has started alongside Holding in defence against the MLS All Stars and was very impressive against Didier Drogba who is still a nightmare for experienced defenders let alone an 18-year-old. Bielik impressed with his composure and has shown very good promise and maturity for a player who is only 18 and is playing at a position which is not his natural one.
While Calum Chambers has been disappointing whenever he has played as a CB, there is a real possibility of witnessing the defensive pairing of Bielik and Holding next season in some games. Speaking on Bielik after the match against All Stars Arsene Wenger said, “Bielek has all the qualities and ingredients to be a top level centre-back.”
“The one thing he is missing is the experience in this position because he came to us as a central midfielder, but I converted him into a centre-back because I felt he can play the type of football we want to play as a centre-back. What I have try to do with him this season is to work on his positional play and improve him, and give him some games. If in December, he is not ready, we will try and get him to play somewhere.”
From the words of the boss, it is pretty clear already that he would feature as a CB next season but there are still some question marks which is why even Wenger has not been adamant about him. It remains to be seen if Bielik is able or not to step up to the challenge and do the job at the back but he is amongst the options being seriously considered by Arsene Wenger.