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Can Fulham Player Of The Season Solve Arsenal’s Longstanding Defensive Woes?

Chambers, Arsedevils

Forgotten man Calum Chambers could still have a career at Arsenal. It feels like Calum Chambers has been at Arsenal forever and that he should be in his thirties. He hasn’t and he isn’t. The truth is that Chambers, is still only 24 and since his arrival from Southampton in 2014, he has struggled to carve out a suitable niche in the squad with very few opportunities to impress.

Chambers was a product of Southampton’s academy from the age of seven, emerging through the ranks to the first team and at the time of his transfer, he had signed a four year contract for the south coast side the season before. He was young, physically strong, calm in possession, and at 1.82m, he presented the oppositions attack with his significant frame as an obstacle.

In November 2018, Fulham travelled to Anfield to face an in form Liverpool. Desperate times require desperate measures and Fulham manager Slaviša Jokanović placed Chambers into the midfield to provide a creaking defence with some much needed protection.

His performances were a complete contrast to his unconvincing outings in the more traditional defensive positions and one could have been forgiven for thinking that once Claudio Ranieri had replaced Jokanović , following his dismissal, Chambers could have been turfed out by the tinkerman.  He wasn’t and although Fulham floundered throughout the season, Chambers offered intensity and determination, retaining his role in front of Fulham’s frail backline.

Rather oddly, Fulham fans voted the loanee as their player of the year with  48.4 per cent of the votes – more than three times as many as his nearest challenger. Chambers was also well received by Middlesborough fans in 2017, where he struck up a good partnership with Ben Gibson and the benefits of regular football were obvious.

So, here he is, back at the crossroads of his Arsenal career and there is an air of finality about it this time around. Chambers needs to kick on, show his worth and ambition to remain at the Emirates. His problem used to be the wealth of options in defence, even if they were poor.

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Any ideas of him returning to the torturous right back position or centre back position should be shelved in favour of his new defensive midfield role. He could, in theory, challenge Xhaka for that role and make it his own, only time will tell. Torreira is obviously the natural occupant but if Chambers can stick in there and form a stable partnership with the Uruguayan, he could finally flourish at Arsenal.

It’s all ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’ because if Emery doesn’t want him, then Arsenal could realistically pull in £20m selling him on. Yet, Emery needs to plug holes with relatively cheap but versatile options and he may well have noted the favourable reviews that Chambers has received and use him as a squad player.

Could he yet be Arsenal’s Renaissance man ?


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The Long Shadow
Anti Kroenke , anti Gazidis but always a gooner. Still wishes he could watch from the stands at the Highbury library.
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