Hector Bellerin needs Unai Emery’s backing to smooth out rough edges

Bellerin-Emery (1)

Hector Bellerin has received as much flak as any Arsenal player since the start of the Premier League season and, to an extent, deservedly so.

In the opening losses against Manchester City and Chelsea, he often looked a headless chicken. Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso had a Team of the Week performance against him, scoring the Blues’ winner in the 3-2 thriller from his side of the pitch. Interestingly, the Citizens’ goals in the 2-0 loss in London also came from his flank. Continue reading

What happened to Hector Bellerin?

There was a time, not so long ago, when Hector Bellerin blew into the Premier League as a breathe of fresh air. The Spaniard forced his way into the Arsenal first team as a teenager, becoming one of the Gunners’ most important players. There was even speculation that he could return to the club of his heritage, with Barcelona reportedly interested in taking Bellerin back to the Camp Nou.

That player, though, hasn’t been seen for a long time. Bellerin is now considered a weak link in the Arsenal first team, as demonstrated by his performance against Chelsea on Saturday. Maurizio Sarri knew to target the Spaniard, with Eden Hazard torturing Bellerin for as long as he was on the pitch.


At a time when new Arsenal manager Unai Emery is plotting a way forward, overhauling his team and overhauling the culture at the Emirates stadium, Bellerin is becoming a problem. While there have been signs of progress further up the field, the defence remains an issue for the Gunners and Bellerin is a significant part of that issue.

The Spaniard used to symbolise all that was good about Arsenal, even in the latter Arsene Wenger years when doubt started to cannibalise the mindset at the North London club. Here was a young player who was a product of both shrewd scouting and good coaching. Bellerin was a modern full produced in a modern way.

Bellerin wasn’t just an attacking threat, but adept at the defensive side of the game as well. He looked to be a player Arsenal could count upon for years and years to come. But somewhere along the line Bellerin lost his way. He didn’t just start to tread water in terms of his development, he regressed.

This is where the signing of Stephan Lichtsteiner could be the catalyst that Bellerin needs to save his Arsenal career. The addition of the veteran Swiss defender following his release from Juventus at the end of last season was a peculiar one, but there is no denying that he will be an influential figure in the dressing room and he will provide some competition at right back.

Of course, Lichtsteiner certainly isn’t a long term option for the Gunners. At 34, he is well into the twilight of his career and so it seems likely that he will only give Arsenal one or two seasons of service. But he is very probably a more reliable option at right back than Bellerin is right now.

Bellerin’s poor form over the past season or two isn’t reason enough for Arsenal to give up on the Spaniard. At 23 years old, Bellerin could still come good. He could still rediscover the form that made him one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League not so long ago. But this season will be an important one for him. There must be an upturn in form soon.

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Man City vs Arsenal is the EPL game of the weekend

mancityarsenalWith the Premier League now set to return to pitches up and down England and Wales, this long summer is drawing to a close. We did of course have the World Cup in Russia to tide us over, but nothing quite beats the few months of the year where you can turn out and watch your favoured club in action each and every weekend – though some people tend to enjoy more happy afternoons at local grounds than others do of course! With that in mind, it’s time to take a quick look ahead and see just which ground will have the most neutral eyes on it, and there can be few contenders to come anywhere close to Man City travelling to Arsenal on what must be one of the earliest Super Sunday fixtures in living memory!

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Usmanov accepts Kroenke’s Arsenal bid – good for the club?

kroenkeChange seems to be the order of the day at north London club Arsenal. Not only are they about to embark on a new Premier League season with a new manager for the first time in over two decades, but there could soon be a change in the club’s ownership as well. Majority shareholder Stan Kroenke has reportedly had a bid of around £550m – that’s two-and-a-bit Neymars – to purchase shares from Alisher Usmanov. The move would make Kroenke the controlling stakeholder at the club, and as a result existing shareholders would be legally obliged to sell their shares to the American billionnaire. Supporter groups have cried out, calling this a “dreadful day” for the Gunners – but would the move actually benefit the club on the pitch?

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Juventus sign Joao Cancelo


Juventus have acquired Joao Cancelo from Valencia for 40M, the club announced on. The 24-year-old right back has agreed to a five-year contract. He spent the last season on loan at Inter, where he became an integral part of the formation in the second half of the season, but the Nerazzurri, which have to deal with the constraints of the Financial Fair Play, opted not to pick up the €35M option to buy him permanently.

The Portuguese’s first year in Italy started slowly, due to an early MCL sprain and a slow adaptation to the new league and to Luciano Spalletti’s tactics. Continue reading

Switzerland Seek To Contain Rampant Brazil

Unbeaten in their previous 11 games and keen to make up for the humiliation they suffered four years ago, Brazil get their World Cup underway against Switzerland at the Rostov Arena on Sunday evening. The Selecao – who have conceded just twice in that aforementioned spell – enter the competition as favourites, and will be looking to show exactly why when they take on Vladimir Petkovic’s men here.

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Serie A Weekly News Recap


On Monday, Italy finished the first cycle of friendlies with Roberto Mancini at the helm with a tie against Netherlands. So one win, one loss and one tie for the new coach as the Azzurri had mixed showings under the new regime.

The coaching carousel is almost over: Cagliari have hired Rolando Maran and Udinese have appointed Julio Velazquez. Sassuolo have parted ways with Giuseppe Iachini and that’s the only open spot besides Bologna. The Sardinians have also promoted Daniele Conti to technical director.  Continue reading

Stephan Lichtsteiner joins Arsenal


Stephan Lichtsteiner has left Juventus to join Arsenal on a free transfer, both clubs have announced on Tuesday. The 34-year-old fullback, whose departure was pretty much certain for months, was linked to Borussia Dortmund and Monaco in the past few weeks, but in the end the Gunners were able to secure the signing.

The former Lazio player has won the Scudetto in each season with Bianconeri and was one of the few members still in the squad, alongside only Claudio Marchisio and Giorgio Chiellini, from the first Antonio Conte title back in 2012. In Turin, he also lifted five Coppa Italia and four Supercoppa. He has collected 258 appearances with Juventus, scoring 15 goals.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 38


The final round was a fitting end to a very entertaining season.

Standings implications. Inter won the battle of Olimpico and qualified to Champions League over Lazio thanks to the head-to-head record. Milan battered Fiorentina and held onto the sixth-spot, so Atalanta will have to go through the lengthy Europa League playoffs this summer. Crotone are the third relegated team after Benevento and Hellas Verona: SPAL, Cagliari, Chievo and Udinese all ended up winning, so they would not have avoided the drop even if they had prevailed against Napoli.  Continue reading

Serie A Player Status Updates – Round 28


The injury bug is running through few teams, also most of last week’s suspensions have carried over to this round. Here are the updates.

Napoli:  Vlad Chiriches could return from a hamstring strain, while Faouzi Ghoulam is in the rehab phase of a fractured fibula. Arek Milik played few minutes against Roma.

Juventus: Alex Sandro and Stephan Lichtsteiner are suspended. Mario Mandzukic missed the last game due to some adductor pain, but he might recover in time for Sunday. Gonzalo Higuain played at Wembley, so he got past an ankle sprain. Mattia De Sciglio is expected back from a hamstring strain. Medhi Benatia rolled an ankle against Tottenham and is questionable. Juan Cuadrado should resumed practicing fully next week after undergoing sports hernia surgery, while in the coming days Federico Bernardeschi will take the tests on his knee to determine his rest-of-the-season outlook.

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