Arsenal’s record when using Hector Bellerin and Ashley Chambers to deputise for Mathieu Debuchy means they must buy in a replacement immediately – Champions League qualification may depend upon it.
The Gunners are 9/20 second-favourites in bwin’s top-four finish market behind 9/25 jollies Manchester United and ahead of third-ranked Southampton at 7/5.
Yet if they are to outstrip at least one of their two closest rivals to book their place at Europe’s top table for next term, then replacing Debuchy, who will be out for three months with a shoulder injury sustained against Stoke, is nothing short of paramount.
Arsenal have lost just one of the Frenchman’s 14 starts this season, compared to a third of the 18 outings in which he failed to make the XI.
The club are sure to suffer if they fail to secure a replacement of commensurate stature according to their respective records with Chambers or Bellerin in the side.
Chambers, the more experienced of the pair, has made 14 of his 19 starts across league and European action in the full-back berth this term, but memories of him being hung, drawn and quartered by Swansea’s Jefferson Montero suggest his long term future lies in the middle.
Arsenal have lost just 11 per cent of their games in which the former Southampton youth has been absent from the starting line-up in 2014/15 as opposed to 26 per cent or those he has been on from the get go.
Bellerin’s effect on the team when making the XI seems more detrimental still, with the Gunners defeated in three of the seven games where he made the XI and keeping just one clean sheet during that sequence.
As such, sourcing an experienced specialist could prove vital in what looks an unusually competitive scrap for Chelsea and Manchester City’s coattails this term.