Arsenal player ratings: Cech, Bellerin and more – mid-season report
Petr Cech and Hector Bellerin get top grades in our mid-season report on Arsenal goalkeepers and defenders
Petr Cech The Arsenal goalkeeper made a shaky start on his debut as the summer signing was at fault for both West Ham goals, but he has been the imperious figure that Arsenal fans hoped he would be ever since. He reads the game with expertise, while his handling and positioning is as good as has been seen since David Seaman was between the sticks at Highbury. His shot-stopping is incredible at times – the saves he made in the 0-0 draw with Liverpool spring to mind – and his distribution is accurate and swift. In addition, calming and organisational effect he has on the back four in front of him must have already saved the club roughly 7-9 points.
Premier League appearances: 20
Two massive cock-ups in the Champions League means he has quite rightly sat on the bench for the rest of the season. He will probably play against Sunderland in the FA Cup on Saturday, however.
Premier League appearances: 0
Hector Bellerin The 20-year-old Spaniard continues to be a revelation and has made the right-back position his own – to such an extent that he has virtually ended Mathieu Debuchy’s Arsenal career prematurely. His lightning pace is his primary asset, along with his unerring self-confidence. The defender is becoming more of an attacking threat down the flank. Sometimes gives the ball away while playing it across the back four which causes panic but in general he’s been solid and amazingly for an Arsenal player he doesn’t seem injury prone.
Premier League appearances: 18
Per Mertesacker Following a season where he played below par by his own admission the ‘BFG’ is back to form approaching his best. Having Gabriel Paulista sitting on the bench desperate to take his place at any moment has also probably helped focus his mind on the job in hand. After the high of winning the World Cup in 2014, the German retired form international football and that decision seems to be paying dividends for his club this season.
Premier League appearances: 15
Laurent Koscielny It’s been an up-and-down season for the Frenchman. While he scored vital goals in the wins over Newcastle and Everton, his poor decision to step up to play Harry Kane offside resulted in Spurs taking the lead at The Emirates. He also put in an unacceptable performance in the 4-0 defeat at Southampton which saw him subsequently benched. His partnership with Mertesacker has improved however and hopefully will continue to do so.
Premier League appearances: 17
Nacho Monreal Now in his third full season in north London, Nacho Monreal has cemented his place as the club’s number one left-back. His performances have been of a consistently high level, his stamina seems to have improved and he looks fitter than ever despite having started all but one Premier League games. His crossing is better than Bellerin’s and although he’s not as quick, he is certainly stronger in the air. His best season thus far.
Premier League appearances: 19 (1)
Arsene Wenger is still unsure of Chambers’ best role so for the time being he is a basically utility man who can play at centre back when needed or in central midfield. Hasn’t really had much of a look-in but you can be sure he will play every cup game and be ready when called upon in the league.
Premier League appearances: 2 (7)
A hard-working professional with a great attitude and clear love for the club. Scored the equaliser against Spurs in the 1-1 draw at The Emirates which almost immediately gave him legend status. Has lost his place to Monreal but will fight to get it back and is used by Wenger from the bench to cement the left flank when Arsenal look to close out games.
Premier League appearances: 2 (9)
The Brazilian defender’s mind-frame seems to range from intense concentration to bubbling rage but he has been a welcome addition to the squad. He lost the plot at Chelsea in the Diego Costa incident and got himself sent off but seems to have adapted well since. Scored his first goal against Bournemouth the other week and was clearly ecstatic which was nice to see.
Premier League appearances: 7 (1)
Frankly pathetic effort from the Frenchman this season after returning from his second long-term injury. While understandably frustrated at losing his place to a 20-year-old, while out injured you’d expect more professionalism from an international footballer like Debuchy. He’s effectively given up, had a moan in the media and all but demanded a move away from Arsenal in order to resurrect his dying (or dead) dreams of playing for France in next summer’s European Championships.
Premier League appearances: 2