At the start of the summer it seemed inconceivable that Arsenal would begin the 2014/15 season as short of defensive cover as they were in 2013/14.
That proved to be true, as the Gunners began the campaign with even fewer senior options than last year following Thomas Vermaelen and Bacary Sagna’s permanent departures and Carl Jenkinson’s loan switch to West Ham.
Arsene Wenger brought in Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, but with the Frenchman reportedly out for two months injured, he is down to the bare bones just six games into the season.
The veteran manager has had mixed results dipping into his youth academy for first team cover in recent seasons, but might find himself with little choice in the near future should one of Chambers, Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker pick up a knock.
Fortunately for Wenger, he might have a trump card to draw in the shape of 19-year-old Spaniard Hector Bellerin.
The right-back made one senior appearance for Arsenal in the Capital One Cup last season as well as playing eight times for Watford on loan before being recalled by the Gunners.
Bellerin has been one of the best players in the Gunners’ Under-21 side since joining the club in 2011, and impressed during the pre-season 5-1 win over Benfica in the Emirates Cup.
According to Theo Walcott, the Spaniard is also the fastest player in Arsenal’s history, having broken the England man’s 40m sprint record, which he himself took from Thierry Henry.
Bellerin’s ludicrous pace makes him a threat going forward – he has already notched his first assist for the u21s this season in just two games – but he is also a composed defender.
Wenger has never been shy of trusting young players, and Chambers’ impressive early showings might further convince him of the merits of backing teenage defenders.
After the 2-2 draw with Manchester City, Arsenal’s next game is away at Borussia Dortmund in their first group stage outing in the Champions League, a match they are 11/5 to win.