Hector Bellerín reveals pride after being named in PFA Team of the Season

Hector Bellerín reveals pride after being named in PFA Team of the Season

The talented 21-year-old fullback has been named in this year’s PFA Team of the Season – and revealed his pride in being rewarded for his consistent performances.

Bellerín reveals TotS inclusion pride

Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerín, has revealed his pride after being named in the 2015/16 PFA Team of the Season by his fellow professionals. The fullback, 21, has been one of the Gunners’ best and most important players in an otherwise frustrating campaign in the red half of North London – with both his maturity and determination to establish his first-team credentials earning him deserved praise from both the manager and critics alike.

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Everton 0-2 Arsenal: Welbeck and Iwobi on scoresheet as Gunners victorious in style

Everton 0-2 Arsenal: Welbeck and Iwobi on scoresheet as Gunners victorious in style

Birthday boy Hector Bellerín, Danny Welbeck and in particular Alex Iwobi – on his first Premier League start – were excellent as the Gunners were victorious in a must-win game to keep their title chances alive.

Gunners back in tandem with stylish victory

Following three games without a win, it was imperative that Arsenal started quickly and effectively took the game to their opponents on Saturday – an Everton side buoyed by their 2-0 home victory over Chelsea last time out, sealing their passage into the FA Cup semi-finals as a result.

They did just that, despite plenty of news rumbling before kick-off that a section of the travelling supporters might possibly stage a protest at both the club – in particular major shareholder Stan Kroenke – and current manager Arséne Wenger, who the media have continuously said is under an increasing amount of pressure to succeed in a relatively unpredictable league campaign, as their best opportunity to win the title is seemingly slipping away from their grasp.

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Arsenal 2-1 Reading: Five thoughts

FA Cup holders Arsenal narrowly progressed through to this year’s final of the competition, and are set to face giant-killers Aston Villa on May 30th after a 2-1 victory over Reading on Saturday evening. Steve Clarke‘s men had nothing to lose, and gave it all they had, but in the end, were unlucky not to prevail courtesy of a brace from Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, cancelling out an second-half equaliser from Garath McCleary.

1. Should Bellerín have started over the returning Debuchy?

When the team line-ups were initially announced ahead of kick-off on Saturday, I must admit that was surprised. Not because Danny Welbeck was preferred to Olivier Giroud in a central striking role, no, but because Mathieu Debuchy, recently returning from a long-term injury lay-off, replaced Hector Bellerín in the starting line-up. The 20-year-old Spaniard has asserted his role in the team over the past few months of the season with a number of consistent displays, so it was a real surprise that the experienced Frenchman was brought back into the fray, in a game of such magnitude, without having much first-team action elsewhere in the past few weeks to prove he was ready.

Debuchy’s performance overall was solid, although it was evident as the game continued, he looked slightly lethargic and he was reluctant to get forward much. This can be viewed as both an advantage as well as a disadvantage, because on the counter attack, Arsenal need men forward, but also require a few players to stay back in-case they lose possession. Bellerín’s energy would have been beneficial all-round as he knows how to get himself into good attacking positions with relative ease given his blistering pace, as well as knowing how to defend.

2. Lack of clinical edge almost cost the Gunners

I’m almost certain, with no intended disrespect to Reading, if Arsenal were playing against a world-class club on Saturday, they probably would have lost over the 90 minute spell. Not because they were not good enough, which they weren’t, but because they failed to take their chances. Wenger’s men started slowly, and Reading did well to assert themselves in the early going. Apart from an early headed effort from Mertesacker, Arsenal did not offer much attacking threat up until Alexis’ opener. Reading had a few clear-cut opportunities to split the Premier League side apart, but for one reason or another, failed to take them.

3. Walcott deserves more minutes to prove his match sharpness

With the scores level at 1-1 with 35 minutes left to play, Arsenal were in desperate need of a pace injection to see them through. Walcott, sat patiently waiting for his chance amongst the substitutes. The clock ticked and continued to do so, and it was only until halfway through extra time where the English forward eventually got his chance to spring the Gunners ahead.

Many rumours have been circulating in recent weeks about the pacey winger’s future, and it is no secret that he is disgruntled with his lack of first-team minutes. He was introduced in place of Francis Coquelin, and looked threatening a few times, especially where he won a free-kick an inch or two away from the penalty-area to give the Gunners breathing space with time running out, after Sanchez scored his second.

If Theo is to stay at Arsenal, and frankly improve as a player, Wenger needs to put his faith in him. I totally understand why the experienced Frenchman would be reluctant to push Walcott back into the fray after having a few long-term injuries, but he deserves more minutes to show he is still an important player in this Arsenal team, not just a ‘sub’ or a back-up to the likes of Welbeck and Giroud, if they get injured for example.

4. Adam Federici kept Reading in the game, but ironically was the man to seal their exit

The headlines will of course be focussed on the “howler” that saw his side cruelly knocked out of the FA Cup, but 30-year-old Australian Adam Federici had an impressive game up until that point, and should be proud of his performance, which kept his side in the tie on a number of different occasions. He made a few important saves, including one to deny Gabriel’s powerful header with a hand parrying the headed effort off the crossbar and out to safety.

Unfortunately, the goalkeeping position is one where even the slightest of mistakes will end up in harsh scrutiny. Just ask Wojciech Szczesny, who the media and fans alike have combined to state McCleary’s effort was his fault, and a shot he should really have been saving.

5. Alexis Sánchez: one of Arséne’s best signings

Even when he doesn’t score, Alexis offers so much to the team. His energy, work-rate, electric pace, close-control dribbling, and impressive finishing ability are all qualities for Arsenal supporters to savour as they watch the Chilean play on a weekly basis. He’s scored 22 goals in all competitions, which is quite a feat for someone in his debut season in the country, and he completed a clinical brace to seal the Gunners place in the Wembley final next month.

Arséne Wenger has signed quite a few gems in his tenure as Arsenal boss, and Alexis is another one to add to the coveted list. Not only is he technically gifted, but his positive attitude towards football in general and his work-ethic spurs his team-mates on to up the intensity of their individual game, which is a quality not many possess.

The more I watch him, the more I wonder, how on earth Arsenal managed to sign him for only £30million pounds?! In this day and age, with the inflated transfer market as it is, the 26-year-old has already proven himself as a steal from La Liga giants Barcelona, and a real coup that shows a signal of intent to the rest of Europe in terms of Arsenal’s aspirations for the future.

Arsenal’s ever-changing right-back predicament


Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger has a dilemma on his hands come this summer, as he looks to cope with having three or four recognised right-backs in the first-team. What should he do?

At the end of last season, Arsenal supporters were admittedly sour at the announcement that long-time servant Bacary Sagna was set to leave the north London club and join Premier League champions Manchester City. The 32-year-old French right-back joined The Gunners in 2007 and made the full-back spot his own, making over 200 appearances in the space of just seven seasons under Wenger’s management; but issues regarding a new and improved contract, for a player over 30 who had broken his leg TWICE were causes for concern from the Arsenal hierarchy.

Questions were asked over who was going to be Sagna’s replacement, as young Carl Jenkinson went out on-loan to fellow Premier League side West Ham in search of regular first-team football to prove he was worthy of being a contender for the right-back spot. Then, in July, Arsenal completed the signing of 29-year-old experienced full-back Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle, for a sensible fee of around £12million pounds. Debuchy himself has played in the Premier League since the beginning of 2013, and although he was not getting any younger, was a ready-made replacement who could help solidify the Gunners backline for a few seasons.

Debuchy’s first few months in an Arsenal shirt were impressive, earning plaudits from fans and media alike. He was just the type of player Arsenal required to help shore up their defensive problems; physical, agile and a workaholic. Then unfortunately, the Arsenal injury “curse” struck in mid-September, during their 2-2 league draw with Manchester City. Debuchy damaged his ankle ligaments and was ruled out of action for three months, which prompted the step up for young 19-year-old Spanish talent Hector Bellerín, who had wowed the Emirates crowd during their pre-season cup in August and was eager for his chance to shine amongst the rigours of the first-team.

Bellerín naturally has matured into an even more promising player than before, and his experience in all competitions for Arsenal this season including the prestigious UEFA Champions League will without a doubt spur him onto achieving greater things in the future. Debuchy has been pictured recently upping the intensity of his training regime as he battles to get back into the first-team before the end of the current season, scheduled to finish in the middle of May. He was seen playing 60 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Championship outfit Brentford too, which emphasises the fact that he’s hungry to play and will work hard to regain his place in the team.

Unless Bellerín is pushed further up the field in a right-midfield position, I fully expect him and Debuchy to be battling for regular first-team minutes for the forseeable future, whether that be for a season or two; but how Wenger will deal with the situation still remains to be seen. Another promising young defender, in the form of Calum Chambers, joined the club from Southampton for £16million pounds last summer. A right-back by trade, his versatility means he can also shift into a centre-back position and has played as a central defensive midfielder a few times for The Gunners, as well as the Young Lions set-up with Gareth Southgate‘s men. I’m certain that Chambers will play as a RCB, or get shifted into a DMF role at some stage in his development, as he matures. So, he is not part of the immediate dilemma, so to speak.

Carl Jenkinson, is. With two right-backs already vying for first-team opportunities at The Emirates, “Jenko” made the bold but calculated decision to join The Hammers in search for first-team football. He has done himself proud, and has given Arsenal fans a sense of encouragement for the future with his consistent displays meaning he has asserted himself as a first-team regular for Sam Allardyce‘s men this season. However at age 23, you would be silly not to suggest Jenkinson wants a piece of first-team action just like the rest of his team-mates.

Many news reports are suggesting Jenkinson is set to leave The Gunners in the summer, and join a team like West Ham. But is that the right thing to do? You can never be too sure with Debuchy’s two injury problems since he joined, Bellerín needs solid competition and Jenkinson can certainly give him it. What will happen? Only time will tell – but Jenkinson has proved his worth and shown that first-team experience has made him a better player, someone that Arsenal should not let leave easily regardless of their right-back dilemma.