It’s quite fashionable these days these for full-backs to think of attack before defence, and that’s mainly because the ‘in-vogue’ systems accommodate more movement, and more interchangeable play. Whilst this is good in regards to promoting attacking, and free-flowing football - it often leaves gaps in behind that counter-attacking teams thrive on. Often a full-back will roam forward to contribute to an attacking phase of play, and then charge back to reposition in time for a turnover of possession. This doesn’t always work, and for a variety of reasons. It’s very rare that full-back is that physically capable of operating that efficiently for 90 minutes, and also, the player in front of them is always contributing to attacking phases of play, and is even more advanced than the full back at this point. This gap has to be filled somehow, otherwise a good counter attacking side can pick you apart. This is where partnerships on the pitch are so very key.
A prime example of this was Everton on Saturday. Mathieu Debuchy is very capable going forwards and backwards, despite not being as quick as some people had hoped. His eagerness is admirable, although it does leave a few gaps on the right hand side, which on Saturday, Everton were happy to try and exploit. For the first 20 minutes in particular, Debuchy seemed very hungry to get forward. I was a bit concerned about this, as I’ve only seen Chambers play a couple of times in our system, and wondered how he’d cope with having to cover so much ground and make such important challenges against a high calibre of opponent. He coped with it extremely well, and it said to me that the fullback-centreback axis is going to be so key to our success this season.
Staying on Chambers, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with how he’s played so far. You’ve surely got accept that with 19 year-old centre half that there will be the odd mistake, but that seems to be part of the learning curve. I’ve no doubt that the odd error will be coached out of him in good time. He thrives off a 50/50 challenge, as he’s got not only the speed to reach the ball, but also the technical ability to make the right pass when he comes out of it. For a 19 year-old centre back, playing away at Goodison Park, in only his second league performance – it was a fine example of what composure and focus can do to enhance a defender’s performance. So credit where credit is due, and I think we’ll be seeing many more performances like that in future.
After we breeze past Besiktas tonight (yikes) – we also have the league cup 3rd round to draw to look forward to as well. This is a competition we normally go far in, and although our squad isn’t that deep this season, we do have some what I’d call ‘proper league-cup’ players in our ranks. These are players who Arsene loves to give a run-out, but also ones that the fans want to see more of. This is because they show glimpses and we’re just left wanting a bit more. I’m citing Bellerin and Campbell as two of these players. However, they aren’t just promising reserves now. They’ve developed over the past couple of seasons and put themselves into contention for the first team. Although it may not be time for a first-team shirt, they have an opportunity to hurt teams that we could draw in the league cup this year. After last year’s FA Cup win, we’ve all re-kindled the feeling of what winning feels like. The euphoria of seeing the captain raise some silverware above his head is one we all crave again this year, and the league cup is one we can go for given the players we have.
We’re probably going to draw United away or something. So this article will probably be redundant by the time anyone has bothered to read it. The future is bright though. UTA