Hector Bellerin emphatically announced his return from injury as he registered the assist for Joe Willock’s goal during a 4-0 win over Nottingham Forest in midweek. The Spaniard’s recovery will go a long way in solving Arsenal’s problems in the right-back slot.
In this article, however, we will look at whether the Gunners have any reliable backup for Bellerin and why they must buy a new right-back in the January transfer window.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s shortcomings
Maitland-Niles did a decent job of deputising for the injured Bellerin during the second half of last season. His attack-oriented style of play tuned in well with Unai Emery’s tactical set up at the Emirates.
This season, however, the 22-year-old is starting to reveal his weaknesses, especially when it comes to performing under pressure. Indeed, Maitland-Niles is not the best ball-carrier and often tends to struggle to get out of tight spaces. Besides, his first touch has let him down big time on multiple occasions so far.
Especially against Watford, the winger failed to keep up with the high press and lost possession. He looked out of sorts against Aston Villa as well and put Arsenal in great danger by picking up two yellows cards inside the first-half.
Maitland-Niles is still a decent crosser of the ball. However, his lack of defensive work-rate coupled with his poor ball control has made him a liability at times for the Gunners this season.
The futility of Chambers
Arsenal fans shouldn’t get too excited by Calum Chambers’ recent performance against Nottingham Forest in midweek. The former Southampton was one of the best performers, ending the game with three assists. He also scored Arsenal’s second equaliser against Aston Villa on the weekend.
However, Chambers is bound to face much tougher opposition than Nottingham Forest in this long, strenuous schedule of English football. And most importantly, he still struggles to keep up with tricky wingers. Especially against Eintracht Frankfurt last week, the 24-year-old looked out of place when dealing with Filip Kostic as the Serbian made a plethora of dangerous runs across the byline.
Similarly, Chambers could also struggle to cope with the fast-paced nature of the Premier League, thus becoming a weak link in the Arsenal defence. He is not as effective going forward as Bellerin or Maitland-Niles either.
Therefore, Arsenal must start their search for a new right-back in the upcoming January transfer window. PSG’s Thomas Meunier, for one, could be an excellent option, although the likes of Max Aarons and Ricardo Pereira have also impressed in recent months.
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