Hector Bellerin has had a tough time in the last year. ACL injury, surgery, extensive rehab, a hamstring injury shortly after, and thena period of lockdown altering his rehabilitation and momentum after returning to full training and matches.
While Arteta made note that Bellerin may not be performing quite at the level many would hope or expect him to, he is continuing to battle for his spot and work toward reaching his peak again.
“As you said he’s had a lot of injuries in the past season that hasn’t allowed him to be very consistent, even in training or in the games that he’s played. And obviously when that happens your level of consistency in performance will always drop. But the effort that he puts in, the commitment that he shows to the club and the players is always at the top. And his performances can improve, of course they can, and he’s trying hard to do that. We are here to help him.”
For many fans, these below average performances are too frequent for a player that starts almost every game he is healthy for and when Bellerin’s performance was well below standards against Southampton, many moved him into a category alongside other players they wouldn’t mind seeing depart in the quest for funds.
Bellerin only managed 28 accurate passes with a 60% pass success percentage. He helped keep a clean sheet and get a win, but when the right side of the field was clearly poor, it’s justified that he is on the receiving end of criticism. As an attacking back that fans want to see offer Arsenal the same options they have gotten from Tierney and Saka on the left, these numbers are very unsatisfactory.
Stats aside, many have commented on the fact that Bellerin looks as though he is laboring to keep up with the play, something the Spanish speedster has never struggled to do. There is no doubt coming back from an ACL injury takes a lot of time and even once back in games, it’s a bit longer before your form returns, but Arsenal are feeling a bit desperate to get performances out of their veteran leaders.
Bellerin has played a lot of minutes since the return of football and with more on the horizon it would make sense to see him rotated out of the squad on Sunday. Good to hear Arteta is willing to be patient with him, especially if Arsenal are capable of getting wins and he is producing on the defensive end, but a lot of the modern game is driven around the outside backs being involved on both sides of the ball. Many will want to see clear strides forward in the progress if we are to keep trusting him as a starter.