By James Howson (Gunners Town Scout)
Over the years Arsenal have had some of the best centre backs in English football, players like David O’Leary, Sol Campbell, Tony Adams. Of recent times Laurent Koscielny has been a key figure at the back but although he’s been a top performer, Arsenal have struggled to be as solid as their former reputation.
Last season Arsene Wenger switched to a back three – which has improved results, although it still hasn’t completely solved the problem with Arsenal conceding in every game (including the Community Shield) so far this season.
Many people feel having improved talent at the back (or even just using centre backs and not left backs) will help matters. Some have suggested signing centre back Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton, but there is another alternative. Krystian Bielik of the Arsenal academy, achieved rave reviews while on loan at Birmingham City last season and could well be the answer to our problems.
I spoke to Arsenal Academy expert Jeorge Bird to get the inside track on Bielik and what he could bring to the team.
GT: So. Krystian Bielik… tell us a bit about him, how long you have known of him, and what the perception of him is at Arsenal?
JB: I first heard of Bielik when he was strongly linked to Arsenal in December 2014, just before he moved.
He’s very highly rated at Arsenal but has had to be patient for opportunities with a lot of senior players ahead of him.
GT: What kind of player do you think Bielik is? Where would he fit in the current system?
Although he joined Arsenal as a midfielder, Bielik is very much a centre-back now and he seems well suited to playing in a back three, having excelled there while on loan at Birmingham in the second half of last season.
He’s composed on the ball and a good leader. He can play anywhere across the back three but seems best suited to playing on the right.
Finally do you think Bielik is ready for the Arsenal starting 11, and if so – what would he bring that other first-teamers don’t offer already?
I think he’s ready to be an option in some games- possibly in the League Cup and the Europa League- but I think he still needs to improve a little more before he is ready to play in the Premier League.
His anticipation and composure on the ball make him a perfect fit for Arsenal.
I got into football as a kid watching Italian football in the afternoons and ever since I’ve been hooked on tactics and the continental side of the game. I’ve written about Italian football in the past among other things but now it’s time to write about, the embodiment of how I see the beautiful game, Arsenal. Hopefully writing things and opinions about the game you haven’t seen before, I like a bit of a joke too.