If Calum Chambers was a cat, he’d be halfway through his allotted lives at Arsenal because as a player, he has never really caught fire. A nearly man, a squad player, a loaner but not first team material and that’s pretty much summed up his time in an Arsenal shirt.
However, last season may have been a game changer. Chambers was out on loan at Fulham and even though the cottagers were relegated, the defender, in a holding midfielder role, acquitted himself well. So well in fact that he was voted Fulham’s player of the season by its fans. Many were talking about him as a possible transfer target and Arsenal were preparing the fee, thought to be around £25m.
Fulham made their way into the championship but Chambers wasn’t part of their plans. No Holding, No Mavropanos and a desperately deflated and out of form Mustafi, have meant that somehow, against all the odds, Chambers has caught the eye of his coach Unai Emery.
A good pre season and opening game in which Chambers appeared as if he’d always been essential to Arsenal’s defence, have put him firmly in contention for the first team.
What a fabulous turnaround for a player that has seen his career stall to the point where it seemed that he might drop a league or two, just to play regular football. Unlike Carl Jenkinson, who never looked entirely comfortable in the top flight, Chambers has decided to grasp any opportunity that comes his way and that he has a future with the club.
He is still only 24 years of age, with his best years still ahead of him but he has been dreadfully inconsistent since his arrival from Southampton in 2014 and patience appeared to be at a premium. His appearances were restricted to the less the important games, meaningless cup runs or as cover for injuries.
Chambers couldn’t make it under Wenger and looked likely to fail under Emery but just as the axe looked likely to fall, Emery has taken another look at the Englishman and he obviously likes what he sees.
Shoutout to Calum Chambers. We’d be in a huge mess without him, given Mavropanos and Holding injuries, Koscielny’s departure and Mustafi.
Thought he did well today, holding down the fort defensively. Example of how the loan system can work for us.
— Dan Critchlow (@afcDW) August 11, 2019
Now I’m not implying Chambers has ticked all the boxes, that he is the answer to Arsenal’s defensive woes or even that he will stay at the Emirates for the rest of his career but what looked like a lost cause has now begun to have a more positive look about it.
He appears like he finally believes in his ability and has the trust of his team mates and more importantly, his coach. This gives Emery a selection headache with Sokratis, Luiz and eventually Holding, battling for places and next season William Saliba arrives.
On this subject, Emery offered encouragement but also hinted that Chambers needed to continue to work hard,
“Last year for Calum Chambers was a very good year. He played all the matches with Fulham, he played centre-back in a three and two, as a defensive midfielder. In the pre-season he deserved to play today. He was very focused and with Sokratis as well very seriously.”
“I want to have very competitive players in each position, with David Luiz, with [Rob] Holding when he is coming to help us, training regularly and playing minutes. He is going to play tomorrow for the Under-23s.”
A faultless performance from Calum! pic.twitter.com/Gazgoq3LJk
— AFCComps™ (@AFCComps) August 11, 2019
It could even mean that Emery has another option in the holding midfielder role if required but nothing’s set in stone at this moment in time. Credit where credits due, Chambers has rolled with the punches and got on with it. It’s now down to effort, desire and dumb luck.