When Arsenal first signed Cedric Soares, there was an overwhelming outcry against it. Having now played 15 brilliant minutes, is anyone still doubting him?
I want to brag for a second. Just a second. Because when everyone was complaining about Cedric Soares being a solution for Arsenal, I was here shouting that it was a brilliant loan and no-brainer to sign him for the minuscule £5m it cost.
Although, I’ll admit that even I was scratching my head when his health continued to prevent an appearance.
That changed against Norwich City when Cedric was subbed on in the 76th minute, replacing Hector Bellerin who was… sloppy. He was indecisive, paled in comparison to Kieran Tierney opposite him, and also paled in comparison to Cedric replacing him.
Cedric had barely even seen the ball when he cracked loose a shot from distance that squibbed into the near corner, beating out Tim Krul, who just never saw the shot. It was too perfectly taken and perfectly placed.
In those brief 15 minutes, Soares tallied a goal, he tied for the team lead in tackles, and he was so, so present on that right-hand side. He was also decisive.
In just 15 minutes, Cedric became the biggest threat to Bellerin’s job. And that’s saying something because Ainsley Maitland-Niles was already trying to stake a claim to the job. Cedric played 15 near-perfect minutes and upset that entirely. He just knocked it out of the park on every level.
I get that it’s a small sample size and we shouldn’t read too much into it. But it was all in the timing too. Bellerin hadn’t looked great. Twice he drove into the box, only to hesitate, then hesitate again, then lose possession. He really didn’t do much else to help his own stock. Everything that he didn’t do in his 75 minutes, Cedric did in his 15.
It’s going to take a lot more for Cedric to be the preferred rightback, but now that he’s healthy, it makes perfect sense to slip him into the rotation and start having him split time with Bellerin. So yeah, Bellerin should absolutely be looking over his shoulder, because there is a very capable, very professional rightback gaining on him.
This was a brilliant signing. It was always going to be. I told you so. That’s pretty much all I’m here to say. Never judge a guy until he gets his chance. Cedric nailed that chance.