Calum Chambers is the forgotten man at Arsenal, the player that never made his mark due to a lack of opportunities and injuries. Be that as it may, many, including myself, had given up on him some time ago and truly believed that he was two feet through the exit door.
However, Chambers is the type of person who soaks up adversity and somehow seems to survive even when the odds are stacked against him and all the positions in the squad are covered. He emerged unexpectedly for the draw with Burnley and dare I say it, acquitted himself well as a replacement for Bellerin and Cedric at right-back.
Say what you like but football can spring surprises at any stage of the season and as Arteta tries to maximise the players who can serve more than one role, it would appear that he wants to have another look at a player everyone has cast aside.
He didn’t get a decent run under Wenger or Emery and has been unavailable for six months or more due to an ACL injury. If you were a betting man, I’m not, you wouldn’t have wasted hard cash on his return to the side at this stage of the season, but Calum Chambers has learned patience and resilience during his Arsenal career, he’s had no choice.
Rumours of Bellerin’s exit continue but would that be of any benefit to Chambers (26) who arrived as a right-back/central defender from Southampton in 2014 and has found a regular place almost impossible to come by. He was farmed out to Middlesborough in 2016/17 in the hope that he would finally show what he’s made of but it was his arrival at Fulham in 2018/19 where the defender caught our attention.
He was the most consistent performer for the Cottagers and was even voted their player of the season which seemed to signal an imminent bid for his services. No bids were received. So with the moderate taste of success, he arrived back at the Emirates with many expecting him to take up a defensive midfielder role that had made him such a hit at Craven Cottage, but he still couldn’t get a slot.
So many fans joined the sell him bandwagon, not just through the frustration of his non-appearances but because a player that doesn’t play seems rather pointless and Chambers never looked likely to get his chance, until Saturday it would seem.
The fact is that despite his performances, good, bad, or indifferent, he hasn’t been able to grasp a regular place and for a player, that must be soul-destroying. I seem to write about Calum Chambers once every 12 months, but surely this time it’s a watershed, where Arsenal use him to his full or limited potential or allow him to leave before his career disappears before his own eyes.
I’ve never really been a fan and that’s probably because he has never been permitted to show us what he’s got. Nearly seven years in since his arrival and we aren’t sure if he’s worth keeping or selling. We don’t know his best position in the big picture and we don’t even know if he has reached his potential.
There’s something wrong there and the fact that his fee was in the region of £16m with add-ons suggests it was another poor investment by the club. Chambers is at the last chance saloon at closing time, let’s see how it pans out for him this time.