The Spanish Under-21 international joined the Gunners as a teenager, moving to North London as a 16-year-old after coming through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy.
Competition for places in the right-back slot is strong as summer signings Matheiu Debuchy and Calum Chambers were both brought in to replace Manchester City star Bacary Sagna.
Many observers felt at the beginning of the campaign that Bellerin, despite impressing for the youth sides, was not ready for the first-team yet and another season in the reserves beckoned.
However, following an injury crisis, he was handed his first-team debut in the Premier League and has gone on to become an established first-team regular, surprising even his own boss.
“He’s one of the surprises of the season. He was at Watford on loan last year and didn’t get the games,” Wenger recalls.
“He’s just 20 years old, if you look at what he does at 20 years of age… He played against a great player today in Sterling in the second half.
“Maybe he still has some experience to gain but defending one against one is good and going forward is good as well.
“He scored an important goal in a big game and that always shows that the guy has the mental quality to be there.”
|Tackles per Game||Interceptions per Game||Effective Clearances per Game||Def Duels Won per Game||Ball Recoveries per Game||Accurate Passes per Game||Total Crosses per Game||Appearances|
As per the table provided by Opta Stats, Bellerin has performed exceptionally at both ends of the pitch during his 13 appearances in a Gunners shirt this season.
He has recorded on average 1.85 tackles, 2.23 interceptions, 4.92 defensive duel winners and 5.23 ball recoveries per Premier League encounter – certainly not bad for a relatively inexperienced pro.
Furthermore, in possession he has proven to be a reliable outlet and he has averaged 2.85 crosses per game, while with two league goals to his name he is among the league’s top scoring full-backs.
Against the Reds’ impressive attacking talents such as Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho, Bellerin looked relatively at ease and performed as if he had been a regular at the Emirates for a number of years.