Football

Hector Bellerin has emerged as one of Arsenal's most consistent players from obscurity

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When Arsenal bought Mathieu Debuchy from Newcastle for £10 million last summer, Gunners fans would have been forgiven to think they had found an ideal replacement for the departing Bacary Sagna.

After all, the Frenchman was a proven, steady and reliable defender in the Premier League - the fears over the hole at right-back seemed to have been allayed.

Over a year later and that slot has more than been filled - not by Debuchy, though, but instead by Hector Bellerin. The dramatic rise of the Spaniard has surprised many, not least the France international, who admitted he considered leaving Arsenal out of sheer frustration of being left out.

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Yet the anger of an increasing lack of match time from such a competent right-back in Debuchy is a testament to the impressive and consistent performances of young Bellerin.

After being accustomed to the pragmatic displays of Sagna and Debuchy over the years, Arsenal fans have been treated to a player who is far more eccentric in his wing-back play.

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It was no secret that Bellerin had pace to burn when he made the move from Barcelona to north London as a 16-year-old in 2011, and has since even beaten Theo Walcott over a 40 metre sprint on more than one occasion.

It is indeed his acceleration that has aided him in becoming one of the Premier League's best full-backs, alongside a variety of traits.

Bellerin's attacking play has particularly caught the eye during his rise to stardom. The Spaniard has created more clear-cut chances than any other Premier League player so far this season, ahead of several proven creators such as David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata and even team-mate Mesut Ozil.

It is quite an impressive stat for such a young full-back still establishing himself in the Premier League.

His tally of six chances created is far superior than any other full-back, and it only heightens the starlet's status as one of the Premier League's most attacking and dynamic defenders.

Furthermore, Bellerin chipped in with a couple of goals last season. His beautiful, curling finish in the 4-1 demolition of Liverpool back in April showed not only his admirable desire to offer support in and around the box, but also an impressive composure in front of goal.

Yet amongst all of his attacking promise, it has been the improvement of his defensive game that has perhaps impressed most. Bellerin has improved his tackling vastly, coming up trumps against those twice the size of him, and has, in general, looked far more composed when dealing with opposition attacks.

Bellerin's fitness shows no sign of letting up either. The speedster runs an average of 10km per match - only Aaron Ramsey runs more at Arsenal. Bellerin's tireless runs up and down the wing have added security down the right side and, therefore, have been a pivotal factor in the Gunners boasting the joint fewest goals conceded in the league so far (7).

Bellerin's important work-rate has also helped Ramsey settle into his temporary yet unfamiliar role on the right wing. The Welshman has been given license to venture forward more often and drift into his much-preferred central role at times, such is the reliability of Bellerin's performances. 

From being thrown in at the deep end to make his debut against Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalonstadion as a raw 19-year-old last year, to becoming one of Arsenal's most consistent performers, Bellerin has come a long way in the space of a year. 

So, as Arsenal seek to come out on top of what is surely the most open title race in years, manager Arsene Wenger will be looking out for the players he can rely on the most.

And remarkably, at 20 years of age, Bellerin is one that Wenger can most definitely count on week in, week out. What a difference a year makes. 

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Topics:
Premier League
Arsenal
Football

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