Carl Jenkinson faces the most contemporary test in football; how do you keep Gareth Bale quiet for 90 minutes?
Bacary Sagna will not be fit to play against Tottenham Hotspur this weekend which means Carl Jenkinson is likely to step in and be given the task of being faced up against Gareth Bale.
He’s been having a decent season with 12 starts in the Premier League but most of these came at the start of the season and considering Bale’s recent form, it’s undoubtedly the biggest test of his Arsenal career so far.
The best way for him to approach playing against Bale could be to not try and compete with Bale’s best attributes such as speed and dribbling with the ball.
If he tries to out sprint him, keep up or match him in a direct contest then he’s going to end up looking a little bit silly at the end of the match.
He has to contain Bale and rely on a little bit of help from his teammates, with someone such as Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey coming over and doubling up on Bale as Manchester United did earlier in the season.
Jenkinson can contain Bale by sacrificing a little bit of space and speed to show the Welshman onto his weaker right foot and keeping him there.
The problem for most sides is what to do as soon as Bale has been shown onto his right foot. In that instance Jenkinson needs to get in tight to stop Bale from switching feet quickly.
That is something which again will also be aided by a teammate coming over to double up because if Jenkinson can’t get in tight, Bale is quick enough to switch onto his dangerous left foot easily.
Communication is also going to be significant here because if the main aim is to show Bale to his weaker side, Jenkinson can’t run across the entire pitch doing just that without leaving a gaping great hole at right back behind him.
Jenkinson has to be dominant, loud and clear when he passes Bale onto one of the centre backs or central midfielders which will be difficult as the match is at White Hart Lane.
The one thing Jenkinson can’t do is allow Bale down the outside and onto his left foot. Bale is good enough in terms of his crossing ability to setup another Tottenham player and he’s also quick enough to get right round Jenkinson and possibly into the penalty area.
If it’s a test he comes through with a decent performance and his reputation in tact then Arsenal don’t need to go and get another right back this summer if Bacary Sagna turns his back on the Gunners for PSG.
Does Jenkinson have any chance this weekend?