The uncertainty surrounding the contract extension of one of Arsenal’s longest serving players – Bacary Sagna, has rumour mill buzzing with speculations. The drop in form of Carl Jenkinson, combined with Sagna’s unwillingness to ‘sing da ting’ has led to Arsenal being linked with one of Saints’ academy products – Calum Chambers.The 19-year old RB was promoted to the first team in 2012-13 season and has gone on to make 21 league appearances this season.
Chambers is primarily a full-back who can also be deployed as a winger on the right flank (Aha!). Wenger prefers players with versatility, who can assume different roles depending upon the situation and this makes the news believable. An in-depth analysis of Stats with respect to Defending, Possession and Passing shows that Chambers is at par with Sagna (statistically). Read on for details.
In 21 appearances, Chambers has made 75 clearances with a cent percent accuracy. The mins per ground 50-50s and aerial 50-50s stats are at par with Sagna’s and Ivanovic’s. Chambers has made a tackle every 36 minutes with an accuracy of 84.44%, intercepted 37 times and 1 defensive error in 1631 mins is the best in England’s top-flight this season (for full-backs).
Although just a pointer, these stats suggest that Chambers can hold his own against the big boys from the league. He defends confidently and never shies away from getting into a duel. Let us now move on to the next part of this analysis.
Chambers has won possession more than 2.2 times every game in the Defensive 3rd and 1.62 times every game in the Mid 3rd, which is similar to the stats of Sagna in this regard. Winning possession every 18 minutes is an indication of the player’s commitment on the pitch and a quick analysis of the videos show that Chambers is as combative in the defensive half, as he is in the attacking half. The rate of loss of possession of Chambers is better than Sagna’s (nearly 3.5 mins per loss of possession), but that may be down to Arsenal’s strategy of being more authoritative from the right flank.
Statistics and videos show that Chambers is very confident with the ball, fulfills his defensive responsibilities and makes good runs on the flank. Off the ball, he takes good positions to recieve passes and coordinates well with Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin – very impressive, considering that he has only played for the Senior team 24 times (including FA Cup and League Cup). Let us now see how impressive his passing and crossing statistics are.
Owing to Southampton’s possession based fluid passing style, it is not surprising that Chambers has very impressive statistics with regards to passing and crossing. A pass every 0.52 mins with an accuracy of 80% is very impressive for any full back (Sagna attempts a pass every 3.5 mins with an accuracy of 84%) and is amongst the top-10 in Europe’s top-5 leagues (for FBs who have attempted more than 700 passes). Chambers has completed 84% passes in the defensive zone (Sagna is marginally ahead with 85% pass completion). 67% pass completion in the attacking zone (Sagna – 74%) and 72% pass completion in Final 3rd (Sagna – 79%) is on the lower side but with experience, this is one area that Chambers will surely improve upon in the future. Sagna has put in 115 crosses (in 31 appearances) with an accuracy of 15%. In comparison, Chambers has crossed the ball 87 times (in 21 appearances) with an accuracy of 21%.
Overall, the statistics seem to suggest that Chambers can be an able replacement for Bacary Sagna but in reality, it will be unfair to burden him with the responsibility of filling the boots of such an incredible player. With age on his side, Chambers can be the crux of Arsenal’s defense in the years to come and form a formidable partnership with Theo Walcott / Alex Oxlade Chamberlain on the right flank. One simply cannot doubt the scouting ability of Wenger and his staff. In the last 10 years, Arsenal have scouted some of the most talented players across Europe but could not match up against the financial might of clubs like Chelsea and Man City. Calum Chambers is a player who has been scouted extensively by Wenger’s team, albiet Arsenal now have the finances to splash on the players who can add quality to the squad.
Bacary Sagna has been a talisman at Arsenal and has made the Right Back position his own since joining the club. He has also done exceptionally well whenever deployed as a Centre Back and (on rare occasions) as a Left Back. Arsenal will not want a player of his quality to strengthen one of the rivals and must do whatever it takes, give him whatever he wants to use his services for a few more years to come. Wenger has indicated on several occasions that in the future, Sagna will play more of a central role. If Arsenal were to tie him down to a new (and IMPROVED) contract, they will still need another Right Back to give Carl Jenkinson a run for his money in the future. Lack of game time means that club captain Thomas Vermaelen may be on his way out of the Emirates at the end of the season. If such a situation arises, Sagna may well be the cover that Wenger needs in the Centre Back position.
Calum Chambers has been very impressive, but it will be unfair to judge a player on the basis of his performance in his first season. He still needs time to develop into a complete player and may not be a direct replacement for Sagna. If Arsenal lose-out on the services of Sagna at the end of the season, they need to get a more experienced player to fill the void. However, if Sagna stays at the club and Carl Jenkinson continues to be reckless and lack-lustre, Chambers will be a quality addition to the squad. Arsene knows how to nurture a young prospect and the move will be beneficial for the club as well as for the player. As was seen post-January, lack of depth in the squad cost Arsenal dearly in the title race and Arsenal must bring in the ‘fringe players’ to provide cover for the super stars.
Please note that the analysis and inferences drawn are based purely on statistics, which may not always correlate with the actual performances of the players. Some of you may have a different point of view or look at the statistics differently, so feel free to share it with me either here or on twitter (@SilverHawk_24). Until next time, this is me signing off hoping for an exciting finish to the season.