Is there a current player at Arsenal who divides opinion more evenly than Hector Bellerin?
You’ll always find dissenting voices among fans when it comes to an assessment of any player, but usually the majority lean one way or the other.
For example, for Xhaka, Laca and Luiz the needle hovers somewhere in the range between “meh” and “get rid.” With Willian it is firmly stuck on “get rid.” With Tierney and Saka it’s at the opposite end of the dial. Et cetera.
But when it comes to the little Spanish fashion icon who patrols the right flank of our defence, that poor old needle doesn’t know where to go. Apart, possibly, from into the ink jar and then into Hector’s skin for his latest stylish tattoo.
For a good two or three seasons I have read columns and seen comments from supporters saying that Bellerin has not turned into the player we all thought he would be: that his defending and positioning are suspect, that his attacking effectiveness is limited and that he has a tendency to switch off at key moments.
Equally I have seen many opinions from people who broadly support him and his abilities. They note how consistent he has been, how his speed is still a real asset (even if he has lost one or two mph since his long term injury) and how he manages to provide goal assists fairly regularly.
Perhaps he has looked bad at times in recent years because the whole team has been bad and has been going through some tough transitional times.
My own view is that, as mentioned, that long injury lay off had a very big impact on him and it took him a very long time to get back in the groove. But once he had a good run of games under him I felt he was a pretty solid first choice in his position and have generally remained a supporter: a Hector Protector, if you will.
But in recent games I have been watching him quite closely and I am starting to have some doubts. Am I slowly changing into a Hector Detractor? Not sure.
What has bugged me about his recent outings is that whether it’s Pepe or Saka in front of him there are too many times in a game when he does not seem to be on the same wavelength as his more advanced partner.
He still regularly makes those surging runs from the RB position deep into opposition territory, but often they come to nothing and the ball is lost or, more typically, Hector checks, looks around for a bit, then turns and plays the ball backwards, killing any momentum we might have been making.
So what’s the answer? Is he good enough or not? It’s possible that the emergence of Kieran Tierney as a real dynamic force in the left back position has made Bellerin look worse by comparison. We can see with our own eyes how effective KT is, yet his stats are not so different from Hector’s: Bellerin has made 27 appearances in all competitions this season (25 as a starter) and has one goal and three assists to his name; Tierney has 20 starts with one goal and two assists.
I’m not suggesting the two players are comparable – KT clearly offers a greater offensive threat and would have far more assists if our attackers had been more clinical in front of goal. But Tierney is a special player. Our best left back in recent years was Ashley Cole and he played in a team where the right back was Lauren. Ralph was a brilliant defender, but he was not in Cole’s class as an attacking fullback. It didn’t matter.
Is that where we are with Bellerin? We just have to accept that we’re lucky to have a potentially world class LB and that Hector is a perfectly good role player in the RB position?
Or should we be looking to upgrade? On one level, you can pretty much always upgrade in any position in theory. But in the summer, with limited resources and cash, would you rather we spend big bucks on a significant upgrade at RB or on a new striker, or a new midfielder?
Anyway, I have ended this Post just as conflicted about Hector as I was when I started writing it.
Help me out here… how should we really rate Hector Bellerin? And what should we do with him?
Couple of relevant comments from the end of yesterday’s Post:
February 23, 2021 at 8:07 am (Edit)
“Bellerin eager to make the leap to PSG”
Usual rubbish speculation from press, but I for one, Hector, am more eager than you ….for you to make the leap!!
February 23, 2021 at 9:08 am (Edit)
I don’t think PSG will invest in Bellerin. PSG is happy with Florenzi and they are looking for a very strong back-up. There may be a swap in the air with Kehrer going to Keipzig and PSG getting Mukiele.
RB: Florenzi – MUKIELE
CB: Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo, ROMERO
LB: Bernat – Kurzawa
DM: Paredes, Danilo
CM: Verratti, Herrera, Rafinha, RECRUIT
RW: Di Maria, RECRUIT
LW: Neymar, RECRUIT
FW: Mbappe, Icardi, Kean (?)
Out: Kehrer, Bakker, Gueye, Sarabia
I think Pochetinno will bring 5 players and I think PSG will not win 1 trophy with Pochetinno this season
Hi Rocky – We had the debate a few weeks back about our defenders. I was of the opinion that we could keep Hector but that we needed an upgrade at RB in any case. If he is happy to fight for his spot, he can stay. If he wants to have guarantees as a starter, I think he should be allowed to leave.
If a team comes in with a decent offer for Hector I think we should take it.
Going forward he is an asset, but defending he is all at sea. He gets exposed over and over. There is no doubt that he gets little support from the players in front of him at times, but his positioning seems awry.
I think he works better as a wing back in a back 3/5. As a right back in a 4 he is not great.
Thanks Rocky. At least my occasional forthright comment initiates a post.
By the way, if he has been patrolling the left flank of our defence, no wonder…..he’s out of position again!!😁
Cashley and Ralph always been in my “best team ever watched live”. Love KT and believe as stated before he will be our Captain in the new successful era ahead.
Nice one Rocky, 👍
[Hector Protector is a nickname first used by yours truly as a somewhat laconic antonym or oxymoron meaning the opposite of the name I used.] 🐶
I have occasionally seen a description of the non-protector as making ‘surging runs’ in attack, as you have said in the Post, and that cannot be denied, but there is rarely ever any wit or wisdom involved in the initial decision to run, and you have neatly described the end product reaching its termination by blindly running into the opposition team, or the non-Protector tends to stop, and shake his head, as if waking and wondering what the hell he is doing, before randomly kicking the ball back into our half, and often starting the oppo’s counter-attack, with him stranded upfield, out of position.
The latter problem is somewhat irrelevant, as even if he had hyper-travel and could get back in time before the counter arrived ….. he would take up position some 5 metres away from some attacker …. any attacker …. and hold that static position while he is skinned by someone …. everyone.
One of my personal gripes about Belli is that he gets picked for every game, when fit, and is frequently and inexplicably given the captains armband, and I suspect Arteta does that because of a loyalty to a fellow Spaniard.
Cedric is a far better RB, who tackles well, supports the midfield and attack, when appropriate, always mindful of his responsibility to defend first and foremost, and in addition is able to launch excellent crosses from the wing rather than aimlessly passing the ball backwards or sideways, whereas Hector tries to hit a hopeful, or hopeless, pass/cross straight to the nearest defender — leading to yet another counter-attack.
We have very gifted and youthful defenders in the U23s to bring on as back up to Cedric, so with the greatest respect, I think we should bid a fond adieu to Belli, and allow him to go and become a fashionista, and perhaps strut his stuff on the catwalk.
Coincidentally, I have just read the following article in NewsNow, that might solve the Belli problem.
“Hector Bellerin’s future is the big news for Arsenal this week, following developments which state he is ready to end his long association with the north London side.
The Spaniard was heavily linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain last summer but was persuaded by Mikel Arteta and Edu to stay at the Emirates Stadium.
However, an exit could now be on the cards 12 months on as Bellerin is said to be considering a transfer with PSG ready to reignite their interest.
[Poor old RC] 🤪
Barcelona, Bellerin’s boyhood club, also hold a long-term interest in the 25-year-old and a return to Catalonia could open the door for a swap deal.
Last month, it was reported that the Gunners failed with a last-gasp attempt to sign Junior Firpo on loan for the remainder of the season but their interest is ongoing.
The 24-year-old was not open to a move in the mid-season window as his partner had just given birth but that stance is likely to change at the end of the campaign following a lack of opportunities in Catalonia.
Firpo would solve Arsenal’s issue regarding a lack of depth at left-back beyond Kieran Tierney, which has been exposed by the Scotland international’s recent injury absence.”
If we all got together and got him a taxi to Heathrow …… you never know.
Thanks- good spot! I have changed ‘left flank’ to ‘right flank’.
Don’t know what I was thinking of. 😳
Thank you for being the original source of ‘Hector Protector’ (even if your use was most definitely tongue in cheek).
Well you might have been thinking El Matador was an all round flanker? 🤥
Sound like a small marsupial found in the Bush
A lot of strange creatures around Shepherds Bush.
Rhyming slang now, I see 😀
Thanks for your service Bel, good luck in your endeavors.
Sell him to the highest bidder asap this summer.
Put Cedric there, move up an academy product or go to the market with the $ and spend half on an up an comer.
Not much love for Hector round here today…
Rocky, wot me? 😁
And you too, GB — how dare you add to my heart break about my Grandma and the reindeer, and also the vacancies on the excellent AA posts!! 😁
[your comment about the camel was a real chuckle maker — sadly I giggled in a very unmanly way.
Sorry for my absence everyone, just been juggling everything a bit lately and life got in the way of giving Arsenal and this blog my attention.
I only came to reminisce having seen Giroud strike tonight. Why oh why oh why I’ll never ever get it.
He has paid back that £18m fee many times. Could you imagine him in the current Arsensl line up, being on the end of Tierney’s crosses and providing the sublime give and gos for the likes of Saka and ESR.
Am the biggest giroud supporter but would have never gotten the pea transfer done if we didn’t sell him
But he class though no matter which Chelsea manager try to right him off he always proves to them how good he is