Arsenal have several options at right-back but there is still a lingering question on Mikel Arteta’s lips:
Which right-back should be starting week in, week out?
football.london has put together some statistics regarding the Gunners’ main right-back options.
Cedric Soares, Hector Bellerin and Calum Chambers are currently rivals for the position, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan at West Brom and likely to leave this summer.
Arteta on Cedric:
“He’s a different quality in the full-back area than what we have.
“He’s a gifted, technical player and is probably the best we have in the final third to make the right decision and attack the box as well.
“He can play in a four or a five, he’s a really good player with experience in the Premier League that can help us.”
Arteta on Bellerin:
“If you asked me that question a few years ago I’d probably say if he is the way he is it’s nice because we had a really strong relationship and I tried to help him as much as I could.
“Now it’s a different relationship. ‘Obviously, when you know the person and you know the professional, it’s easier to help them because you know how he feels, you know what he needs and how to get the best out of him.
“It’s true that this season he’s found much more consistency, he’s been available in many more matches and hopefully, he’s now forgotten the last two years when injuries meant he wasn’t able to play as much.”
The stats show that Arsenal win more games when Cedric Soares starts at right-back compared to Bellerin, Maitland-Niles and Chambers.
Arteta on Chambers:
“I am really happy with Calum. He has gone through a really difficult period. He has worked so hard.
“He has looked really good in the last few weeks in training. He is not even thinking about his knee right now. We want to give him minutes when we can because he is a player that we believe in.”
Arsenal also score more goals when Cedric is in the team, compared to the other right-back options.
As mentioned by football.london in January, his aforementioned versatility is a key trait which makes it an easy decision for Arteta to give him opportunities in the Premier League. He’s played as a right-back, a left-back and a wing-back in a three-man defence, all positions where Arsenal have struggled in over the past couple of years.
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It cost the Gunners less than £1m to sign Soares on loan for six months, a move which became permanent in the summer and he’ll now see out the best years of his career at the club. Technical director Edu was criticised for the move at the time but it can now be seen as an intelligent piece of business for an Arsenal hierarchy who had to be smart with their financial decision making.
Arteta has already described the Portuguese as the best defender in the final third at the club, and he looks set to take the mantle as the preferred right-back choice with Bellerin open to leaving this summer.