Despite a week away from Premier League fixtures, the clubs’ transfer actions haven’t gone unnoticed.
With whispers of names like Denis Suarez and Christopher Nkunku emerging from Arsenal’s camp, Casey Baughan speculates just how difficult the job of replacing the injured right back, Hector Bellerin will be.
So what does it mean for Arsenal to lose their first choice right back for nine months and what solutions are there?
Losing a player to a serious long term injury is never ideal, especially when the manager has announced that his club can only afford to bring in players on loan. Arsenal do have a habit of bringing players in on loan (unintended of course). Take Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck for example, who both face sitting on the sidelines for the 18/19 season. Bellerin’s perfect replacement would have been Calum Chambers before Arsenal shipped him off to Fulham on loan.
Let’s consider manager Unai Emery’s options:
1) Ainsley Maitland-Niles or Carl Jenkinson
Without Bellerin, Arsenal’s defence has no speed and will suffer from that, but Maitland-Niles is the equivalent in terms of athleticism. The 21 year old is the answer to most of the Premier League’s side problems, injury in midfield? He’ll do the job with his talent down the right hand side.
Then there’s Jenkinson, living his dream out with his supported club (I can’t forget the image of his childhood bedroom!) A fair back up choice as he can provide the strikers with better crosses than usual and undoubtedly, passion – more so than Maitland-Niles who looks rather uncomfortable in the RB position.
Experience doesn’t quite cut it when you have Stephan Lichtsteiner in your squad, who has proven time and time again that he is not suited to the Premier League, apart from when there’s a scrap on the side lines.
2) Change in formation
Perhaps a 3-4-3 would be a safer option for the Gunners, with the likes of Dinos Mavropanos returning regularly in the under 23’s fixtures. Luckily for Emery he has landed himself a versatile team with Xhaka playing in defence occasionally. There’s a chance for 3-5-2 to have potential if Maitland-Niles or Jenkinson act as a wingback.
3) Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Wishful thinking – the Crystal Palace right back is turning out to be one of the best in the Premier League. And Arsenal sure could do with someone of his ability, someone with pace, natural aggression and can be thrown into the deep end and choose to swim, rather than sink. For me, he has that slight edge over Bellerin.
4) Cedric Soares
The North London side missed out on this bargain of 11M euros, whilst Inter Milan swept up this deal. Soares has plenty of Premier League experience with Southampton and could actually be a long term competitor with Bellerin upon his return.
5) Look to the youth team
With such a talented academy Arsenal are fortunate that they could explore the options of Jordi Osei-Tutu who travelled with the first team on their pre-season Singapore tour. England’s Harry Clarke has the capability of playing as a RB driving the ball forward with his previous midfield experience.
Follow Casey on Twitter @casey_baughan