The Right Back Conundrum
We currently have a headache at right back. Mathieu Debuchy is currently head a shoulders above anyone else at the club. He is undisputed 1st choice.
The conundrum then comes with who should be his back up going into next season.
Hector Bellerin is just 19, and certainly has the pace and ability to be a long term contender to the 1st choice right back slot. He looked good against Stoke and certainly has a bright future.
Meanwhile, at West Ham, Carl Jenkinson is going from strength to strength. Another brilliant performance against Swansea for West Ham has led some to start talking about him adding to his sole England cap.
We then have Calum Chambers. Started the season so well, but has gone backwards a little bit, and has rightly been taken out of the limelight. Still just 19 himself, he certainly has a future at Arsenal, whether it be at full back or centre back.
Next season, 3 in to 1 does not fit in the race to be Debuchy’s understudy.
The issue he could be slightly resolved if we decide to turn Chambers into a full time centre half. This would reduce the competition at right back to two. But with us clearly needing an experienced centrehalf to back up Koscielny and Mertesacker (or replace one in the 1st team), that would then leave Chambers as 4th choice centre back. He is better than that. Conundrum not really solved.
If this is the option the club takes, it then leaves Jenkinson and Bellerin battling it out. Jenkinson has the experience – he would have played nearly 38 games for West Ham by the end of the season – but Bellerin is perhaps the more naturally gifted.
It is clear that Wenger backed Bellerin over Jenkinson last summer, as it was the Englishman loaned out, but perhaps the form of the on loan Jenkinson will perhaps see Wenger reverse the role in 2015/16.
Jenkinson returns to back up Debuchy, with Bellerin on loan, perhaps?
I think what is the likely scenario is a new centre back is bought. Chambers is installed as 2nd choice right back, 4th choice centre back, Bellerin is loaned out, and Jenkinson sold to the highest bidder.
It makes my head hurt just thinking about it.
So Benik Afobe is the next Arsenal in a long line of Arsenal youngsters to have been hyped up as ‘the next big thing’ who has ultimately failed to make the grade at the.
Now a lot of people seem to be disappointed that the England youth striker was not given a chance at Arsenal. Citing the performance against Manchester United in the League Cup and the fact that Yaya Sanogo is still at the club as the two main reasons.
The fact is, Afobe did not make it at Arsenal because HE is not good enough.
Over five years ago, rumours circulated that then 16 year old striker Afobe, was interesting Barcelona having put in some good performances for both club and country at a youth level. Alongside Chuks Aneke, big things were expected. Sadly, both have shown how hard it is to make the step up for talented youngster, to breaking through into the first team.
Afobe is 22 in February. This means we should stop talking about his potential, and start talking about his ‘here and now’. And it is the here and now which is not good enough.
You look at the players he is currently competing with for a place in the Arsenal first team squad. Yaya Sanogo, Chuba Akpom & Joel Campbel.
Afobe is older than 2 of the 3, and is infact 3 years older than Chuba Akpom. Yet is behind all 3 in terms of talent and ability. Some might argue he is better than Yaya Sanogo, but you only have to compare youth international records to see that Sanogo is the superior player.
As for Joel Campbell, he is 6 months older than Afobe. He has already played in the Premier League, in the Champions League and in a World Cup. Afobe has not even played for Arsenal yet!
Finally, Chuba Akpom. Like Afobe, he has been rated ‘the next big thing’.
For me, whilst Afobe has not had his chance at Arsenal, he has had his chance at other clubs.
A loan deal to League One Huddersfield at 18 saw him score 5 league goals in 28 games. But rumours of him being arrogant and a ‘big time Charlie’ would have rung alarm bells at London Colney.
Over the next 3 seasons, he had 4 loan spells at 4 different Championship clubs. In 40 league appearances, he scored just 4 goals.
This season, he went on loan to League One MK Don’s, where he has performed well. 10 goals in 20 league games, 19 goals in all competitions. It would usually be enough to get you excited, but it is League One, and he is nearly 22. Had he had that type of scoring record for Huddersfield at 18, you could talk about his potential. Having that record at 22 probably means he has found his level.
You could point to Tottenham and the likes of Andros Townsend, Harry Kane & Ryan Mason, who between them shared 18 less than impressive loan deals, before breaking through to the Spurs 1st team in their early 20’s. It shows some players do develop later. But the question to ask is are any of those 3 good enough for Arsenal?. The answer is no.
Personally, I do not think any of Afobe, Akpom, Sanogo or Campbell are good enough for Arsenal and would not be surprised if none of them are with the club by the time the 2015/16 season kicks off.
Benik Afobe (and Aneke) is not the 1st to be hyped up massively – mainly by our own fans – to that not make it. A lesson learnt? Probably not.