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Hector Bellerin should be worried

Hector Bellerin has not performed well since the restart. Meanwhile, new Arsenal signing Cedric Soares looked bright on his debut, including scoring a lovely goal. Bellerin should be worried.

Hector Bellerin has had a stranglehold on the starting right-back job at Arsenal for several years. Even through injuries, the Spaniard has always been considered the number one option ever since he took advantage of Mathieu Debuchy’s extended absence. However, perhaps for the first time in his career, he is now being put under pressure.

This is down to two key reasons. The first is his own form. Bellerin has suffered dips in performance level before, but most have been related to injury. His 2017/18 season in which he played over 3,000 league minutes was hampered by an ankle injury that robbed him of his full match-sharpness. Last season, he started excellently before tearing his ACL.

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The second factor is competition. Put simply, Arsenal have not had the players to compete with Bellerin for the starting job. In recent years, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has refused to consider himself a full-back while everyone knew what Stephan Lichtsteiner before he arrived.

However, at present, we may have the perfect storm that could unseat Bellerin from his starting role.

Bellerin has performed poorly since his return from an ACL tear midway through the season. Of course, the initial difficulties can be put down to a lack of match fitness and there is plenty of grace required when a player is recovering from such an extensive injury, but his form since football’s return, after three months of rest and recuperation, has been equally as poor. It leads some to question whether he will ever be the Bellerin of old.

Then there is the emergence of new signing Cedric Soares. Making his debut in Wednesday’s 4-0 win over Norwich City, Cedric not only scored from distance but looked extremely sharp, snapping into challenges, playing several excellent crosses into the box, and providing a greater offensive impact than the man he replaced.

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It also does not help Bellerin how Mikel Arteta has spoken about Cedric. He waxed lyrical about his character and quality before his debut. Following the performance, Arteta was equally as glowing. In his post-match press conference, he said:

“I said in the past that he probably has the best end product of the guys that we have, it’s one of the main qualities that he has. He showed that tonight as well with the way he can finish. I’m so happy for the boy. He’s brought great energy and a lot of positivity to the group since he joined, even though it’s been really difficult for him with injuries and the fracture that he had in his nose. I’m glad for him. He made his debut, he scored a goal and we got the three points so it was a perfect night for him.”

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This does not spell the end of Bellerin just yet, admittedly. Arteta has shown great faith in him and has praised his work ethic and character upon his return from injury. But the pressure is now on. The Spaniard should be worried.

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