Who can fill in at right-back for Arsenal?
Hector Bellerin’s injury is a huge blow
Arsenal have had a rough time with injuries this season. They’ve already lost Danny Welbeck and Rob Holding for the rest of the campaign. Now Hector Bellerin has joined them on the sidelines.
The right-back had only just returned from a calf problem when he ruptured his cruciate ligament against Chelsea last weekend.
With the Gunners 3/1 to secure a top-four spot, Bellerin’s injury leaves Unai Emery with a big problem on the right side of defence.
The North London club aren’t likely to bring in a replacement this month, so who will Emery choose to cover for the Spaniard?
Signing Stephan Lichtsteiner on a free transfer seemed like a no-brainer in the summer. Arsenal needed a reliable alternative to Bellerin and the Switzerland captain was a serial winner during seven years at Juventus. He’d also add some much-needed know-how in the dressing room.
The problem is that the 35-year-old has looked well off the pace on the pitch. Whether at right-back or as part of a back three, he’s struggled to adjust to the Premier League.
The veteran is a totally different type of player to Bellerin too. The Spaniard’s ability to bomb forward is a valuable attacking weapon on the right. Lichtsteiner doesn’t offer any of that dynamism, but he hasn’t looked secure defensively either.
He may want to be a midfielder, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ versatility has seen him play all over the pitch for the Gunners.
The England Under-21 international has many of the raw ingredients needed to fill in at full-back. He’s comfortable in possession, has the athleticism to get up and down the flank and he’s happy to do a job for the team.
Now he has a chance to nail down a spot in Emery’s starting XI for the next few months. It could be the making of him at Arsenal.
Carl Jenkinson has seemed like the forgotten man at the Emirates in recent years, but the 26-year-old has made five appearances for the club this term.
As a natural right-back, he may fancy his chances of filling in for Bellerin. However, he hasn’t been trusted to face testing opposition. All of his appearances have come in the Europa League or against lower-league sides in the domestic cups.
Jenkinson is a boyhood Arsenal fan and always gives his all when he gets a chance. But there’s a big drop-off in quality from Bellerin to the Harlow-born defender.
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