Arsenal’s most improved player heading into FA Cup semi-final

Arsenal fullback Hector Bellerin has been one of the club’s biggest surprises this season.

Arsenal take on Reading in the FA Cup’s first semi-final clash at Wembley on Saturday in astonishing form, winning their last eight Premier League encounters in succession.

Picking a standout player since the turn of the New Year at the Emirates stadium is an almost impossible task given how well a number of players have performed.

However, two regular first-team stars have taken gone beyond what many supporters could have imagined possible as they continue to prove their worth to the team.

The first being defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin, but arguably more surprising has been the rise to prominence and current form of the previously unheard-of Hector Bellerin.

The former Barcelona youth star was set for another season in the development squad but was subsequently thrust in to the XI by Arsene Wenger due to an apparent early-season injury crisis.

  Tackles per GameInterceptions per GameDef Duel Winners per GameBall Recoveries per GameTake-ons per GameAccurate Passes per GameKey Passes per GameAppearancesMins Played
Héctor Bellerín 1.2 1.6 5.2 4.6 2.2 35 0.8 5 361

After a shaky couple of appearances – the first-half at Stoke City being a key match – Bellerin has improved immensely, with the table provided by Opta Stats above now illustrating his importance.

The 20-year-old has averaged as many as 5.2 defensive duel winners and 4.6 ball recoveries per Premier League encounter since the beginning of March.

Moreover, he has proven to be quite a reliable attacking option, completing on average 2.2 take-ons and 0.8 key passes per match while also opening the scoring in the recent 4-1 thrashing over Liverpool.

Such has been his improvement that speculation has already begun linking him with a return to Barcelona, the Daily Star reporting the Catalans’ interest in Bellerin as a possible Dani Alves replacement.

With Mathieu Debuchy set to return to action with the Gunners, it will be interesting to see if Arsene Wenger sticks with his youngster and on current form he would be wise to do so.

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