Calum Chambers Becoming Better Center Back by Playing at Right Back


We’ve seen it happen many times before where Arsene Wenger has continued to play players out of position. Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott were both almost always confined to the wings in light of their preferred striker role. Mesut Ozil had to play left wing for much of last year. It even happened to Thierry Henry, as he was moved to striker. That one worked out okay though.

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Wenger may have seen what he did for Henry and thought he could do it with more, or it may just be a case of having too many players that all play the same position, but whatever the case, you’ll rarely ever get a player’s true form by playing them at a position they’d rather not play.

Calum Chambers has been almost entirely confined to right back after being signed as a center back, defensive mid and right back reinforcement. However, we’ve seen him play all of those three positions and it’s all too clear which position he is most proficient at and which position his skills and weaknesses push him towards – center back.

Young Chambers said back in August (via talkSPORTS) that he didn’t know which position that he preferred, but to the me, it’s always been pretty obvious. While Hector Bellerin has the recovery speed to track back after forward runs and the on-the-ball skills to pose an offensive threat, Chambers doesn’t. He has made some pretty decent attacking runs in his most recent appearances, but his recovery speed is incredibly lacking and in Arsenal’s fullback scheme, there has to be the recovery speed of Bellerin or Gibbs on the edge or the defense will continue to get caught out.

And being a fullback, you’re going to face wingers more than strikers. Calum Chambers is not quick or fast enough to handle opposing wingers. He’s a much more physical back that will step up to any challenges, but if the challenge will just dribble around him with ease, than frustration is the likely byproduct.

At center back, he’d be able to match up more against slower strikers who use strength rather than speed as their key asset. And even if they don’t, the center of the box is a far smaller zone than the entire right side of the pitch.

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When compared to other players at the position, Calum Chambers characteristics look far more like Gabriel Paulista and Laurent Koscienly than Hector Bellerin and Manthieu Debuchy. His strength, size, and physical presence far outweigh his speed, agility, and forward play. It seems like a cut-and-dry issue, but for some reason Arsene Wenger continues to play him at right back.

My thought is that he’s doing similar to what he did to Monreal. By playing Monreal at center back, he heightened his skill level at left back. He understood better what his team mates had to do to cover him and he became a more responsible defender. Wenger is going for something like an inverse of that effect on Calum Chambers. Letting him play out wide gives him a different perspective, one that he’ll be able to utilize as a center back. He’ll be able to understand what his team mates are doing and what risks they’re exposed to and he’ll be able to preemptively come to their assistance when needed.

To take it one step further, it’s also preparing him to be a more complete center back than anyone else. Most big center backs have never played fullback positions extensively. Their knowledge of the position comes from what they see and hear, but not from what they’ve experienced. Experience is the best teacher, and Calum Chambers is getting that invaluable experience now to use when he’s finally restored to the center of the defense. Being a footballer is about more than just knowing one position. It’s about know the game as a whole and knowing what each and every position is responsible for. That experience that Chambers is getting at right back is experience that gives him a very useful knowledge that could be invaluable in shaping him as a center back.

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