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Should Stephan Lichtsteiner play over Bellerin?

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Stephan Lichsteiner

At the age of 34, it may surprise anyone to see Arsenal’s new signing Stephan Lichtsteiner in competition for a place with 23-year-old Bellerin who has made over 120 appearances for the North London side.

However, after just few outings, some fans are already pushing for more minutes for the new player.

One of the largest complaints about the Arsenal’s style of play in the few games under Unai Emery is the lack of drive and exciting football. Possession-based football must have a direct feel to it, pushing forward constantly, but this has not been the case.

Fans have watched as the play breaks down and the ball is played back to the goalkeeper from the halfway line too many times, and when this happens no player appears to passionately object and try to push forward, with the exception of Lichtsteiner.

When the Swiss full-back came on against Man City at right-back, one of the first acts he completed was to foul Raheem Sterling to rapturous applause from fans. Obviously, fouls should not be encouraged, but at that moment fans saw a player full of passion, drive and gamesmanship that the rest of the team lacked.

As well as being an extremely competitive defender, the fullback pushed hard up the wing with some rapid changes of pace, pressuring the rest of the squad to get forward to join the attack.

Although Hector Bellerin is one of the fastest players in the Premier League, it is much more important to see how a player uses their pace, and it is clear Stephan Lichtsteiner is willing to use his speed in a much more direct fashion.

The two full-backs do appear to be in a contest for minutes, but recently, in a joint interview with Bellerin, Lichtsteiner said:

“We are a team,” he said. “It’s not Hector against Stephan, it’s Hector and Stephan for Arsenal“

Showing the mature and team-focused nature of the player. Emery has a tough job on his hands to select a team out of a squad that holds so much talent, but it surely feels that Lichtsteiner could be an absolute game-changer if utilised correctly.

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