Just as it seemed that our club had filled the gaps in our squad sufficiently to hurdle the inevitable injury woes that befall us every season – a player departs from our ranks.
Calum Chambers has travelled to Middlesbrough for a season-long loan deal, in a quest for minutes on the pitch.
The Teeside club will benefit from the England defender’s presence, their backline is a little light on the ground and Chambers will more than likely slot into the heart of their defence.
What does this say for Chambers Arsenal prospects though? At the start of the season, and after a promising pre-season, Chambers looked in pole position to grab his fair share of starts. Per Mertesacker was ruled out for a lenghty spell through injury, and Brazilian Gabriel then crocked himself in the last friendly game before the season even started.
The England international was primed and ready. The first game of the season arrived, and he was named as centre-back alongside recent purchase Rob Holding. A central defensive pairing of a 20 and 21 year old brings its fair share of positives and negatives, but experience is possible one of the most valuable assets as a defender – and so it proved.
For seventy minutes, Chambers and Holding held Liverpool at bay, but for just twenty minutes, he and his young compatriot were ripped apart and pulled in all directions as we shipped four goals to completely change the landscape of the game.
The lack of experience told. It also showed that Chambers’ lack of minutes has been detrimental. In fits and bursts, Chambers looks to be the real deal, but he now needs the battle scars to ally with his talent.
It can only be gametime that can further Chambers career. If he had stayed at the club for the season, then his development would have been hindered, either through a lack of games or a stop-start campaign where he is simply called upon like a bandage to a wound – filling in only when injuries leave us weak.
This move should be grasped with both hands by Chambers. He has been given another chance by Wenger to plant himself in the future plans of the club with this loan move. By moving to a club who are perceived by many to be staving off the threat of relegation for the duration, Chambers will be under pressure for the majority. If he can come out of this season with his head held high, then the next season will seem like a cakewalk in comparison.
This loan move makes sense, but the warning lights for Chambers future at The Emirates have flashed. He has fallen behind in the pecking order, and needs to step up. This season may just be the most important one for Chambers in his time with Arsenal, even if he won’t be playing for us.
Go and show us all what you can do Calum.