Hector Bellerin can keep Mathieu Debuchy on the Arsenal sidelines

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For the past couple of years, when the departure of the long-serving Bacary Sagna became increasingly inevitable, there was a considerable sense of fear amongst Arsenal supporters about how the club would replace the Frenchman.

When Sagna eventually did depart last summer, the answer as to who his successor would be appeared to be rather straightforward after his compatriot, Mathieu Debuchy, was signed from Newcastle United, whilst Calum Chambers would provide back-up and Carl Jenkinson would continue to develop out on loan.

Hector Bellerin had long been touted as a future first-team star following his arrival from Barcelona as a youngster, but few people would have envisaged the Spaniard making the sort of impact that he did last season.


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In truth, Bellerin's rapid rise owed much to circumstance, with Debuchy missing large periods of the season through injury and Chambers often struggling at full-back. Now, rather than being left without a genuine option at right-back, manager Arsene Wenger has two very good players to choose from. Who, though, will succeed in the battle to become Arsenal's first-choice right-back this season?

Bellerin, especially given the way in which he ended last season, would appear to be the player in possession at present, despite his relative inexperience at the top level in comparison to Debuchy. The Spaniard has many qualities in an attacking sense (perhaps unsurprisingly given that he was a winger during his formative years at Barcelona's La Masia academy), with his crossing perhaps his most stellar attribute.

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Significant improvements

Defensively, Bellerin has shown some considerable signs of improvement in the past year and certainly appears more assured than when he first appeared on the senior stage. His pace can also aid him defensively, whilst his tackling is also of a very high standard.

Bellerin certainly adds balance to the team, but he does still have some notable flaws in his game, the most prominent of which is his tendency to clear the ball straight to the opposition when defending, thus inviting more pressure on him and his team-mates.

His positioning can also be a concern at times, with the youngster sometimes ending up stationed as a centre-back when he should be defending on the right flank.

Big decision

As far as Debuchy is concerned, the 29-year-old was left frustrated last season as his maiden campaign at Arsenal was ravaged by injury.

Strong physically and, like Bellerin, dangerous in the final third, the main concern regarding Debuchy is his fitness, but there is also a worry that the former Lille player over commits to attacking at times, which can often leave the Gunners exposed, particularly if Kieran Gibbs, another player who likes to roam forward, is deployed in the opposite full-back berth.

For now, Bellerin should be allowed to continue as first-choice, but, with Arsenal involved in four major competitions, there will inevitably be opportunities for both the 20-year-old and Debuchy to shine.  

The long-term picture regarding Arsenal's right-back situation is even more complicated, with Jenkinson, who has been sent out on loan again to West Ham United, remaining highly regarded by Wenger.

As far as this season is concerned, though, it will be intriguing to watch the battle take place between Debuchy and Bellerin, with the latter highly unlikely to relinquish his position in the side without a fight. 

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Mathieu Debuchy
Premier League

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