Calum Chambers: The Real (2 Year) Deal?

Bursting onto the scene as a teenager at Southampton, as second choice right back to Nathaniel Clyne in 2012/13, Calum Chambers made a great first impression during a sustained run of games, displaying the levels of talent and potential that have perhaps gone missing throughout recent years.

Catching Wenger’s eye at Arsenal, Chambers made the move to Ashburton Grove in 2014 and was eased in and out of first team football during his first season at the club. Since then, Calum’s ability has always remained but a combination of injuries, rustiness and lack of opportunity at Arsenal, meant that his appearances dried up. At one stage, Wenger had Hector Bellerin, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson as RB options, and it looked more likely that Chambers’ future lied as a centre back but even that was in doubt at the time due to the number of CB options at Arsenal.

He spent last season on loan at a struggling Middlesbrough team that eventually got relegated from the Premier League but the experience of playing the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Costa and Sergio Aguero all season long would have tested him week in, week out. Being a loanee meant that ultimately the pressure was off and he could approach each game with a relaxed mentality knowing that he was there purely for experience and match practice; the perfect platform to produce your best. Alongside Ben Gibson, Chambers stood out at ‘Boro and after a good preseason this time around with Arsenal, he now looks a more rounded player that has clearly learnt a lot from a top flight season on Teesside.

He would not have been happy slipping down the pecking order behind Rob Holding but after Holding’s shaky start to the season, and Chambers now having signed this new two-year deal, he is set for a season with plenty of opportunities to impress. He possesses the desire to pass and play out of the back, the undoubted Arsenal way, and is big in stature yet athletic enough to hustle and bustle with the league’s top forwards. Coming back to Arsenal this season and training again with top class players will only increase his confidence and ability, giving him everything he needs to succeed.

So what’s the deal with a new two-year deal? With Per hanging up his boots at the end of this season, and Wenger continuing to deploy three at the back, there is a first team place to be had, for sure. Next season especially, Chambers should be looking to push on past Rob Holding, and press Monreal and Mustafi for a starting spot. What he lacks in experience (compared to Monreal and Mustafi), he makes up for in size, athleticism, robustness and pace. He is English and should remain part of our defensive core for years to come, providing he delivers on what is expected and impresses this season. If he takes his chances, he will edge out Monreal or Mustafi in my opinion and even if he does not, he will be a valuable asset and one of four or five more than capable centre back options at Wenger’s disposal. Let’s not forget that Calum Chambers could also fill the RWB spot if so needed, he is quick enough and composed enough to be a suitable understudy to Bellerin when required. Koscielny and Monreal are both the other side of thirty and at a top club in four competitions each season, they will soon start to slow down and decrease their minutes just as Mertesacker and Cech are doing now. Chambers needs to get a run of games in order to build a relationship with the defence and ultimately keep clean sheets, to prove his worth. He should repay the club’s loyalty but consider that he is still a young, developing player with a lot to offer our football club.

Arsenal have nothing to lose here…he is English and home grown for a start. He knows the club and the Arsenal way, and having won the Toulon Tournament with England on the international stage in 2016, Chambers will be hungrier than ever to make the starting XI and to gain the opportunity to impress at Arsenal. He needs Wenger to give him a prolonged period of games so he can play well and make a lasting impression. It is no coincidence that he made his full Senior England debut prior to appearing for the U21s, this is exactly what he needs to rediscover; the enthusiasm, energy and poise of yesteryear to go on and establish himself as an Arsenal first teamer. Do that and he will be destined for a long career as the leader of our back line.

Craig Bennett

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