Five or six years ago, most Arsenal fans would have said they did not feel comfortable at all with the first team defence. A mixture of shaky inexperienced youngsters, paired with the old and average centre backs of the past, was not a good look for Arsene Wenger’s side. The centre back options of Squillaci, Silverstre, Djourou and Koscielny, just to name a few, was not the greatest we’ve ever seen, and in fact the weakness in those options often left the side very vulnerable to embarrassment and disappointment on the pitch.
A few years down the line and certainly one of those players has gone on to become a star of the side, with Laurent Koscielny not just becoming one of the best centre backs at Arsenal, nor in the Premier League, but generally in football worldwide. Kos, known often as Bosscielny, is regarded as one of the very best in the game and although over the last few years he’s had some fairly decent partners in Mertesacker and Vermaelen, nothing will quite beat the current partnership that he has with summer signing Shkodran Mustafi. The pair have grown to a work well as a unit as well as individuals and I think they are only making each other stronger with each game they play together. The Gunners can finally boast about having a strong defence that we can have confidence in again and for some, that’s something to really admire about this current Arsenal side.
For young Gunner Krystain Bielik, Mustafi and Koscielny are two players that he admires very fondly and they are two defenders that he feels he can learn a lot from during his time with the club. Bielik, who initially signed for Arsenal as a midfielder, has been pushed to centre back under Arsene Wenger’s guideline and from the playing time that the Polish Under 18 international gets at Arsenal, most would agree he looks like an impressive talent for the future. Part of Bielik’s rise at Arsenal will depend on how quickly he develops as a player and how much of an impact he can make on the side to impress the boss. Having star studded defenders in front of him in the pecking order may not be good for minutes on the pitch, but it certainly helps him learn from the very best.
Speaking about his development at Arsenal and the admiration he has for Arsenal’s regular defensive stars, Bielik said: “I feel stronger and better at centre back. It’s good that we can train with the first team because we can learn from the best like Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi. I’m doing well and still making progress. I’m working hard and hopefully in the future I’ll be a good centre back. I think Laurent and Shkodran are two of the best players in the league and in the world too.”
Bielik still has a long way to go obviously and given that he is still young, the player still has plenty of time to impress the bosses at Arsenal. The only issue the youngster may have is that Rob Holding and Calum Chambers are both arguably ahead of him the pecking order and given that Mertesacker and Gabriel also remain in with a shout, it’s not very often that we get to see Bielik make the step up to the first team. I think Bielik has the talent to become a very good player in the future, but whether or not it is at Arsenal remains to be seen. Personally in my opinion, Arsenal will favour a partnership between the two Englishmen when Koscielny is deemed too old to be a regular feature for the Gunners, whilst let’s not forget that both Mustafi and Gabriel are also young in age.
With that in mind, I do think Bielik will make it at a top club, but more than likely not at Arsenal. I guess he must learn from the best to develop into the top class defender that he has big ambitions of becoming, but for that same reason he will find it hard to break into the team!