LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Cedric of Southampton arrives at the ground ahead of the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton FC at Selhurst Park on January 21, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Arsenal brought in two new players in the recently concluded winter transfer window in the shape of Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares. While the arrival of Mari was understandable, the addition of Cedric was a shocker, to an extent. In fact, Southampton themselves were shocked as they were expecting their Portuguese ace to move to a lower league club.

In this article, however, we will discuss why Cedric could actually surpass expectations and even potentially dethrone Hector Bellerin this season.

Defensive astuteness

In this second half of the season, Mikel Arteta will be keen on minimising his side’s defensive frailties. At the moment, only Everton have conceded more goals than Arsenal in the top half of the Premier League table. So essentially, the Spaniard could prefer players who can provide the additional solidity at the back.

That’s where Cedric could come into the fray. The 28-year-old is considerably more defensive than Bellerin and should, therefore, provide a sense of solidity in the Arsenal backline.

As far as statistics are concerned, Cedric’s tally of 2.8 tackles won per game is considerably higher than Bellerin’s 2. In fairness, however, it won’t make sense to compare these two players statistically as the latter has featured in only five Premier League matches this season.

But, at the same time, Cedric has averaged 1.2 interceptions, 2.8 clearances and 1.1 aerial duels won per game, all of which are extremely impressive for a right-back. And this defensive prowess could undoubtedly help the Portuguese get the nod ahead of Bellerin during the course of this campaign.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored

Cedric Soares of Southampton in action during the Premier League match between Southampton and Swansea City at St Mary’s Stadium on September 18, 2016, in Southampton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Tactical flexibility of Cedric Soares

What makes Cedric such an appealing target for Arsenal is his tactical flexibility. Having played under Ralph Hasenhuttl, who is known for his aggressive and detailed tactics, the defender’s sense of positioning has significantly improved.

That means, unlike Bellerin, the Portuguese international is very prudent when it comes to making offensive runs into the final as it could leave acres of space in behind. Mistakes in timing an offensive run allow the opposition to make use of potential turnovers in the middle of the park and given Arsenal’s weak defence, scoring a goal becomes all too easy.

Moreover, Arteta, having worked with Pep Guardiola for more than three years, emphasises positional play. Cedric, in that regard, is a better fit than Bellerin, even though the latter is significantly better when it comes to rotating possession.

Lack of expectations

Cedric has arrived at Arsenal only as a cover for Bellerin. That means there won’t be much hype regarding the performances of the right-back. Same cannot be said for Mari, who is a prime candidate to dethrone David Luiz or Sokratis in the Arsenal backline.

This lack of expectation could allow Cedric to perform freely and play his natural game. As mentioned earlier, he is tactically compatible with Arteta’s style of play while his defensive prowess could solidify the Arsenal backline.

So if he can garner enough confidence to replicate his performances at the Emirates, in this second half of the campaign, we can undoubtedly expect Cedric to give Bellerin a run for his money.

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.