Bellerin to Barcelona? Wenger’s Back-Up Plan

Ox or Bellerin in 3-4-3?

So let’s have your views on this one.

When we play 3-4-3 we have good cover in the right back position, especially if and when we combine Bellerin in midfield with Mustafi or Holding behind him in the defensive ‘3’. But we need more from the young Spaniard than just good defensive cover; we need him to add real value in attack too. We all know that Hector Vector can run from Barcelona to Madrid in under an hour, but he is still lacking an attacking end product. In 2500 PL minutes he produced just four assists and had on average 0.8 key passes per game; and in all those minutes he scored just one goal. He can be both exhilarating and frustrating in the same ten seconds…. time and again.

In the new formation it is vital to have all-round wing-backs who deliver in all areas. Since the rumours of a move for Bellerin to Barcelona started to get more momentum, Arsene has give the Ox more time on the right wing-back position, it seems. He had to get used to the defensive side of things but compared to Bellerin his seasonal defensive stats do not compare badly: 0.7 interceptions and 1.3 tackles per match against 1.1 and 0.7 by Bellerin respectively.  His positional awareness and concentration levels still need improving but he has played his part in the good defensive team stats since going 3-4-3.

And the good thing about the Ox is he is now starting to deliver the bread and butter stats: 2 goals and seven assists in 1550 PL minutes and 1.1 key passes per game. I have to add that these are his seasonal stats and have been established whilst playing in more than one position, rather than just as right wing-back. But it has been clear for us all to see that the Ox is starting to really hurt the opposition now, not just with his pace and deadly dribbling skills, but, most importantly, also with his ability to deal the crucial blows – and yesterday’s goal and a couple of accurate crosses during his cameo for the national team underlined this once more.

Both the Ox and Hector Vector are promising young(ish) players and you would expect the Ox to be better at this stage, given the age gap between them (approx 1.5 years). I also feel that Bellerin will get better and better but am unsure whether his crossing and ability to deliver key passes will improve enough to make him our first choice wing-back going forward. Only time will tell.

In fact, I am starting to think that the Ox is probably our first choice in this key position now. If we works hard on his defensive responsibilities over the summer, he could become undroppable/unstoppable. Wenger has a big decision to make, and with Chambers and even Mustafi as back-up wing-backs on the right, he may be tempted to cash in on speedy con-Bellerin….

But what do you think?

By TotalArsenal 

20 thoughts on “Bellerin to Barcelona? Wenger’s Back-Up Plan

  • Good topical post T A. Transfer prices are going silly at the moment, makes you wonder if there is a correction due sometime in the future? I know age is a big factor, but I have heard figures of £50 million for both Bellerin and Alexis???? I just don’t get that. As you say Bellerin shows plenty of promise, but he isn’t top notch yet. If we were offered £50 million Bellerin I would be tempted to take it. I hope the Ox can do a good job defensively, if not I think we might need an external replacement, I am not sure any of the centre backs can do a good job there, other than for the odd game or two.

    It’s about this time of year many a fan gets sentimental about players (myself included) “He is not quite top notch but I really like the guy” mentality. I get the impression that Wenger is very loyal to his players, but if we are truly going to mount a challenge this season I think he is going to have to be a bit tougher. Players like Wilshire, Mertesaker etc may have to be moved on, to make way for more robust players ( as much as it pains me to say so). as well as the more obvious candidates.

  • Hi Retsub

    It is kind of hard to determine how well a wing-back in 3-4-3 needs to be at classical defending. You could argue that the three CBs do most of the defending and the wing-backs just cover space and support the CBs when needed. With that in mind, i reckon the Ox is not a bad option at all and his defensive stats are not too shabby either.

    Re Wenger being tougher, you have a point. I reckon this is about his style and belief in human beings.Standing by players and giving them confidence is pivotal to his style of management. He has had a lot of success through this. The down side is that sometimes players let him down and that can be costly.

  • TA,
    Good topic, well handled. Little details like this, at the end, are as important as the Mbappe saga.

    Meanwhile am beginning to think that all these astronomical price tags are either fabrications or at best artificial, in which case most deals would happen close to the end of the window after the bubble bust.

    Bel or Ox is a tough call. Ox can hit heights that Bel can’t dream of. On the other hand, Ox can drop to lows that dont exist for Bel. The romanticist in me says Ox. The pragmatist says Bel. Consistency shades it. Bel for me.

  • Hey TA, Cheers for the post, a fine one, as always… I’m very pleased that you put it up as my Saturday got away from me just a bit so retsub’s (very fun) post only got put together this morning…With yours up, I think we should hold off on his and maybe make it a Monday morning special…:D

    On this one, I see you’ve really changed your views on the Ox… To my mind, both he and Bellerin are still young and developing players and we should do all we can to keep them at the club. Ox has re-upped (or is close to doing so?…) and Bellerin is on the books until 2023. There’s no need to sell either of them…

    I’m not a stats guy so I only go by what I see. But maybe that’s a subject for a separate post… For example, should a goal made as an attacking sub against a knackered Scotland back-line count the same as ones not scored as a 90 minute RB on a fully loaded Spanish team?… Should a tackle or interception go in the books, when a better defender might make his opponent choose to not even kick the ball his way?… The only thing (perhaps) less convincing about a player’s true quality might be those highlight vids people put together… 😀 …

    So, stats (and compilation vids) notwithstanding, I see two players who BOTH can be similarly frustrating with the final ball decision making (hopefully) that should improve. That said–and even if it appeared Wenger preferred the Ox at right wing-back once we switched formations–I think Bellerin edges the Ox on several fronts. For me, it’s in the engine room where he has the clearest advantage, showing me that he can make runs up and down the pitch–over and over again–in full 90 minute performances. The Ox is way behind in that area (for me, at least) perhaps because he’s got that big broad chest to carry with him. That extra strength might help him get past defenders on the dribble (or even in 50-50s, etc. ) but once he’s done he’s winded and needs recovery time. Not so with Bellerin, who is able to recover as he’s getting himself re-positioned. Like with the final ball decision making (and execution), I think both players will get even better with their stamina over time, but there’s a reason Bellerin can play as a (very attack minded) LB while we’d never dream of using the Ox in that role…

    I’d also give Bellerin the edge in terms of fitness. He mostly had to play through his ankle problems this season (probably hurting those stats of his…) whereas the Ox gets the big muscle injuries all too often that leave him out for weeks at a time. Again, we’ll have to see how this goes over time…

    The real problem with Bellerin is that he’s not English and that Barca have already begun the tapping up process as they did with Cesc. “Fans” (“supporters” too…) seem to lap up the back page stuff even when the headlines have zero relevance to what the article says. I just clicked on one such article with a headline saying in essence, “Bellerin on his way back to Barca” with the evidence being that there were a lot of comments on his instagram page by Catalans… Geez. We’ve seen the generosity given to the Ox all these years he’s stunk up the place. Is it really time to turn on Hector just because he’s not English? (Or because the Ox has a whiff of perfume around him at the moment?…) Sadly, it probably is…

  • retsub,
    Should Wenger get tougher or not? Thats a good poser. On the surface I’d say get tougher as that benefits the team and after all it is even more merciful to kill with a sword than with kisses. But that is easier said than done. Moreover who can really tell the sum psychological effect on the squad, as this is impossible to quantify.

    Like other things in life, there is alwys a middle path that is the best. I wonder where his is. One thing I know i cannot do is plunge the dagger into Wilshire’s heart.

  • Good points about fitness and engine, Seventeenho. Bellerin is ahead re these indeed.

    But Bellerin’s lack of attacking end product is a big disadvantage, whether you read the stats or not. Can we afford to play 3-4-3 with him in that position next season?

  • P E anyone who stands up in front of the Arsenal crowd and sings songs about Hating Tottenham, will always be a hero in my books. I didn’t see a great deal of him playing at Bournemouth, but I don’t think he had an exceptional season. It was great that he stayed fit for so long last season, but he puts so much energy into his game and often gets injured stretching into tackles. Sadly I don’t think Jack would stay fit enough to be a key member of the side. Sincerely hope I am talking rubbish.

    17HT. Although I understand some elements of the crowd turned on Hector at the Palace game, I think the vast majority are supportive and want him to stay. The problem is many of us saw a very similar process take place with Cesc. Once Barcelona got interested there was a certain inevitability about it. I can’t help thinking that Hector will follow a similar route

  • Hey Retsub, sounds like you’ve got another post in the pipeline, looking forward to it.
    Btw, I can see where your coming from about not being sentimental and retaining players longer than they sensibly should be, and I agree up to a point.
    The thing is mate with the likes of Szczesny, Ospina, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Gibbs, Perez (sadly), Campbell (probably) and Sanogo (going) on their way towards the exit, we already have a significant group leaving.
    And we’re not sure about Ozil, Alexis and Ox yet, so I’d be a little reticent about releasing Jack and certainly wouldn’t let BFG go…
    But then that’s me mate, a big old sentimentalist… 😉

  • Kev
    I agree I am sentimental to and would keep The BFG. Trouble is I would probably keep them all.

    If you get a chance get a look at Ray Parlours book, it’s a bit like an Essex pub guide. He tells a really funny story about Kolo Toureat his trial match. The very first tackle he made he floored Henry. Wenger goes up to him and tells him no tackles. Next tackle and
    Bergkamp, is on the floor. Wenger warns him again. kolo apologises and the next person he takes out is Wenger himself.

  • Wenger has always been a believer in building team spirit rather than create a revolving door of players, and buying new stars, who may disrupt the team credo. He is a sentimentalist like that, but does that style trouble me? Not one bit. Like some here, I will keep most of the players, save for those we absolutely have no use of; who are, even now, look like becoming a ‘toxic’ influence (Debuchy, Perez). Good thing Sanogo is off; then there are the likes of Gibbs, Calum chambers and Theo for whom a decision will have to be made, home grown considerations and all.

    As for the Bellerin – Ox conundrum, I will stick with the Ox to start in a 3-4-3, every time. I will also keep Bellerin, though, for those times the Ox will be unfit. Nothing wrong with having 2 good options at RB/RWB. It is to be noted that Bellerin must have felt hurt by the fact the Ox was preferred to him for most of the games, under the new system; I feel that’s the reason for him allowing the Barcelona rumours to play out for a while before he sent out a message to assuage the feeling of fans, some of who reacted too prematurely on bits of news that had no official quotes (unbelievable at times, the number of gullible fans). I believe Bellerin will grow to become a better RB but he’s a bit lightweight now and that’s where Ox is ahead of him, in my view, in a back 3.

    TA, nice to see your change of heart about the man too.

  • Pony Eye says:
    June 11, 2017 at 07:21

    “I had been wondering whether you’re a kind of ‘Doctor without boarders’. How you dey?”.

    Lol @ ‘Doctor…’. I dey, kampe. Cheers, my man.

  • New Post…

    Retsub is at it again…and it’s a very fun one…

    Put aside a bit of time and enjoy some fine Arsenal moments from his long and rich time as a Gooner…

  • Hi all.. Hi TA..
    So we now talking about wingback..
    I feel sorry for Walcott and Perez cause they will have a very hard time.. maybe we won’t see them again..

    First, I want to ask you why comparing Ox and Bell..?? Do they subs each other..?? Sorry for my short term memory.. I think Ox subs with Monreal more often..

    But okay, let’s assume that Wenger will put Montreal more as our 3 CB.. and Sead Kolasinac will play as our LWB.. or both Monreal and Kolasinac subs each other.. So Ox will play more as a subs for Bell.. Who will play more..??
    If we look back to our last games (since we play 3-4-3).. I think Wenger will choose Bellerin..
    I don’t know why exactly.. maybe because in our right side, we have Ramsey and Ozil with quiet similar type..
    we need more defensive wingback..
    And Bellerin have a very special skill.. he can run faster than any players.. and he can run up and down very quick.. hehehe.. He just need to practise his killing skill in front..

    TA.. with 150M fund and Wenger had already said he will bring only three players to strengthen our team.. which part will be strengthen..?? Can we count Kolasinac as his first.. It mean only two more players with 150M budget..?? Wow.. crazy..

    We need a CF.. yes we did.. but don’t mention Mbape here.. We know exactly it’s nonsense.. 100M for 19 yo guy.. whose only less than 5M a year before..?? Come On.. hahaha..
    Just because that stupid silly Mou bring back his own club man with 100M.. it’s doesnt mean every single player worth 100M also.. Even Ronaldo and Messi worth less than that in their ages.. cmiiw..

    So who will that 2 players..??
    And for sure this players won’t come to Emirates just to sit on the bench..
    Do we still need another CB..??
    Do we need to bring another RB..?? Bundesliga RB..?? Diego Demme.. hehehe.. He can also play DM..
    If Demme arrive..?? Will it be end of Bellerin or Ox..??

    And what will happened to our youngster..??
    Iwobi, JRA, AMN, Chambers..
    Bielik, Nelson, zelalem and Crowley..??
    Very interesting to followed.. hehehe..
    Hope the best will come.. VCC..

  • A new RWB required

    Bellerin or Ox for the RWB position? A good question TA.

    The way I see it, there are four key performance criteria for RWB role:
    1. Tackles
    2. Interceptions
    3. Dribbles
    4. Crosses

    In terms of benchmarking, arguably the best performing RB/RWB in the top five leagues in recent seasons has been Ricardo Pereira, a Porto owned 23 yr old who has been playing on loan at Nice for the past two season. In terms of his performances in relation to the aforementioned KPIs, his per game numbers are:

    – Successful tackles: 3.3 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 2.2 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.5 pg
    – Accurate crosses – 0.5 pg

    In terms of the comparative performance of Bellerin and Ox in recent seasons (noting that Ox has only played a handful of games at RWB), their respective numbers are:

    – Successful tackles: 1.5 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 1.7 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.6 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.4 pg

    – Successful tackles: 1 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 0.7 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 2.1 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.5 pg

    So it’s pretty clear to see that Bellerin and Ox’s defensive deficiencies, mean Arsenal can certainly upgrade the side’s starting RWB position (an arguably should).

    While Pereira would be the ideal candidate, Porto have made it very clear he is not for sale and have recalled him to fill the RB/RWB role for the Portuguese side next season.

    That being the case I would like to see Arsenal recruit a 24 yr old RWB by the name of Youssouf Sabaly who is owned by PSG but has been playing on loan at Evian, Nantes and Bordeaux for the past four seasons. His comparative number during that time have been:

    – Successful tackles: 3 pg
    – Successful interceptions: 2.5 pg
    – Successful dribbles: 1.7 pg
    – Accurate crosses: 0.7 pg

    Given Sabaly is current stuck behind Aurier and Meunier in the RWB pecking order at PSG and both of those players are only in their mid 20s, I think a move for Sabaly would not only represent an upgrade for Arsenal at the RWB position but would be financially realistic for the Gunners.

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