Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla starred as Arsenal hit back at their recent critics to overcome Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. The pair scored two apiece for the Gunners, while Ayoze Perez added a consolation for their Northeast visitors.
With all the pre-match talk focused on the latest injury crisis brewing at the back for Arsenal, it was somewhat surprising how the Gunners back-four fared against Alan Pardew's resurgent side.
Hector Bellerin, 19, particularly impressed. In midst of the club's ongoing defensive shortage, the young Spanish right-back emerged as one of the most impressive players of the evening, stating a genuine claim for a starting berth at right-back in Arsene Wenger's side.
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Bellerin showed good pace and got forward well, with his efforts down the right-flank seeing him involved in both the first and third Arsenal goals.
His smart interception initiated the attack for Olivier Giroud’s opener and then a marauding run and a pin-point cross gave the Frenchman his second. He weighed in one key pass, while attempting five dribbles, of which three were successful.
The youngster was defensively solid, too, winning three tackles and two headers, alongside four clearances and two interceptions. He was harshly cautioned in the first-half, but showed impressive maturity and discipline to avoid a second booking in the latter stages.
Bellerin's passing accuracy would suggest he gave a lackadaisical shift, and while he did carelessly misplace a few passes in the defensive third, the majority of his inaccurate attempts to find a team-mate came under intense Newcastle pressure in the opponents half. In total he made 37 passes; just a handful of which he misplaced.
This was, without doubt, the young right-back's best performance in a competitive match for the Gunners. Bellerin is an exciting prospect, who is finally starting to prove his potential to the Emirates faithful.