Arsenal began the new season on a good note, garnering three points, albeit via a stoppage time winner. While Aaron Ramsey has surely enhanced his ever-growing reputation as a fan favorite with that winner, the performance of Calum Chambers has not gone unnoticed. The 19 year old was impressive on his Premier League debut with Arsenal against Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace held their ground and put up a tough challenge at the Emirates. Against a team that caused more than a few problems, Chambers was calm, composed and efficient. He completed an impressive 92% of the passes he attempted. While he wasn’t under the kind of pressure attackers experience in the closed spaces, credit is due to the youngster for showing a steady passing ability. The defender was constantly pushing forward, often venturing into the opposing half. He made a far greater number of passes forward and was often seen pushing forward with the ball. His ability to move forward with the ball helped bridge the gap with the midfielders. Against a team that sat deep and in many ways embodied the style of former manager Tony Pulis, the contribution of Chambers eventually played its own vital role in breaking down Palace’s resistance.
The player was solid in defence: he made 4 tackles in the game and came out on the top on each of these occasions, his main victim being Fraizer Campbell. He shut down the Palace striker on three occasions, which included a crucial tackle on the edge of the box midway through the first half. Any player coming up against Chamakh will find it tough in the air, and Chambers experienced the same, winning 50% of his aerial duels. However, overall, Chambers came out on top in 70% of his duels, summing up an impressive shift at the back-end of the pitch.
The player has shown tremendous ability to read the game. His ability to get into crucial positions to stop any attempts on goal also came to the forefront during the game. He made 2 crucial interceptions early in the second half to thwart Palace – who were constantly looking for counter-attacking opportunities. Chambers also made 9 clearances, including 4 crucial ones inside the box and blocked 1 cross during the 90 minutes. He made 7 headed clearances to avoid any complications within the box against a team that look at aerial threats as one of their primary weapons. He was booked late into the first half for a challenge on Fraizer Campbell. However, the player remained tidy in his tackles and duels for the rest of the duration.
Overall, it was a great evening for the young lad who was making only his second competitive appearance for the club. He formed a solid partnership with Koscielny, moving ahead and assisting in the attacking half, while the Frenchman sat deeper. Having the legs, he was quick coming back into defensive positions despite going forward.
At Southampton, Chambers made a reputation as a fast right-back who was good at either end of the pitch. He has demonstrated similar qualities at centre-back, being solid in defence and tidy when in attack. In Mertesacker, the club has loads of experience in that position. However, it is a well known fact that he is not the fastest around the park. With Chambers in its ranks now, Arsene Wenger can look to pair Chambers with Koscielny, should he need a faster option in that position:
“I think for Calum every game is important, but he looks to adapt very well. Will he play the full season? Certainly not, as he’s 19. At the moment he looks like he’s growing every game and resisting the pressure, which is very important in this job. He’s growing and adapting to a new position.”
The Arsenal manager has made it very clear that he doesn’t see Chambers playing every single game. The club already has the vastly experienced Mertesacker and are touted to sign Kostas Manolas shortly. That would heat up the battle for the starting spots at the Emirates and Chambers will be looking to make a solid impression while he is provided with an opportunity. He has been praised by fans and pundits alike and will be hoping he can continue the good work to feature in the plans more often.