Should Hector Bellerin move into an attacking position for Arsenal?

Hector Bellerin 2

Hector Bellerin has impressed since breaking onto the scene at the Emirates Stadium.

Spanish youth international Bellerin has made eight Premier League appearances for the Gunners this term, impressing as a deputy for the injured Mathieu Debuchy.

With Debuchy starting the season as first-choice, and fellow summer arrival Calum Chambers assisting as his back-up, it was not expected that Bellerin would become such a key part to Arsene Wenger’s first-team. However, injuries to the first choice pair saw the 19-year-old come in at right-back, and he has excelled enough to keep his place since Chambers’ recovery.

Debuchy is still out for a few weeks, and he will likely regain his place as first-choice right-back when he returns, but that is no reason for Bellerin to lose his place. The young Spaniard should remain in the starting XI, but be moved further forward when Debuchy returns to add a defensive presence in the final third.

Arsenal play a system that requires high-pressing, and a defensive ability from all the offensive players. They currently complete 6.3 tackles per game in the final third, although they lack a real defensive presence in the attacking ranks to make use of that fact. Unlike Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham - who all play with a wide man dedicated to ball winning and recycling - the Gunners put all their energies into attacking.

This works brilliantly against the weak teams in the division - as shown in the 5-0 thrashing of Aston Villa - but when up against a team who are less wasteful with their possession, Arsenal have been cut to pieces. Despite the lowly 2-1 scoreline in the loss to Spurs at the weekend, Arsenal were dominated in the final third against a team who presses high, and they often lost the ball in the middle third of the pitch without moving towards the Spurs penalty area.

When given time on the ball to work creatively, the three Arsenal forwards are brilliant, but they suffer against a team who presses them. There is no real physical presence in the Gunners final third, and Bellerin - despite being small and nimble - has proven to be incredibly adept at holding onto the ball after winning it. If he were to win the ball in the final third, his first job would be to find a teammate and recycle possession, rather than take a man on and potentially lose the ball.

Obviously, bringing a defender into the attacking phase of play will slightly limit the attacking potency of the Gunners, but for the sake of increased possession and defensive stability, that should be accepted. Anyway, Bellerin has proven to be an impressive creative force this term, and his lack of technical skill is compensated with his incredible pace.

The defensive winger position is one that has been growing in stature in the Premier League recently, and it comes as no surprise to see Arsenal linked with Man City’s James Milner to fill that position, as per the Mail. Arguably the best at that role in the top flight, the English international could prove to be a great signing for the Gunners if he makes the switch to North London, but they would be better suited to using Bellerin in that role - allowing him to grow as a player with that position as his main focus.

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