Arsenal manager Unai Emery has just received a major boost on the injury front. Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Kieran Tierney have all returned to full training.
These defenders have been out for varying lengths of time but none of them have featured this season. This could all change in the coming weeks. Arsenal have a lot of games coming up and Emery will need to tinker with his squad.
Eventually, he could settle on a back four comprising Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Holding and Tierney. That involves four changes from the current backline. Here’s why this should be tried out.
Chamers and Holding in for Luiz and Sokratis
David Luiz was brought in to firm things up at the back for Arsenal. But he has given away two penalties and made a string of costly errors during his short spell in North London. The Brazilian defender needs a spell on the sidelines to regain his form.
Meanwhile, Sokratis Papastathopoulos is another player struggling for form. The Greek defender cost Arsenal a goal against Watford at the weekend and he has been sloppy. Both him and Luiz need to be dropped – at least for the short-term.
Chambers played in the first game of the season and deserves another chance. The 24-year-old could partner Holding, who is returning from a lengthy spell on the sidelines. Holding is arguably the Gunners’ best centre-back when fit but he needs to show he has shaken off his ACL injury sustained last December.
Bellerin for Maitland-Niles
Like Holding, Bellerin has been out with an ACL injury. The Spaniard sustained his injury in January but is now back in full training as he targets a return to the side. This could be timely with Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ form slipping.
The 22-year-old has been a threat going forward this season but his defending has been questionable. This is expected from a converted midfielder but Bellerin is the better option when fit.
Tierney for Kolasinac
Tierney joined Arsenal from Celtic to ease the burden on Sead Kolasinac at left-back. But the Scotland international will be targeting Kolasinac’s starting spot. Like Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac has shown he can be exposed defensively.
Emery could look to Tierney, who has experience in the Scottish Premiership with Celtic. The 22-year-old is capable of doing the defensive and attacking duties that Arsenal require and he could be the long-term option in this department.