Our New Left Back! By Dan Smith
We all have opinions but sometimes you have to understand a manager will see something in training that us fans don’t.
It was assumed that Cedric started at left back at the weekend because Kieran Tierney was injured and having sold Kolasinac, Arsenal just needed a body. It seemed a mistake when we were knocked out of the FA Cup, missing the width of Tierney.
Understandably Cedric kept cutting back to get the ball on his right foot. Clearly since then he’s been told to believe more in his left. It led to last night the Portuguese having his best game as a Gunner, ironically against his former club.
Not just was he taking on his man and getting in decent deliveries, more impressive was how he switched play, picking long passes across the pitch.
Even though it’s not his preferred role, he embraced the opportunity like Maitland Niles has failed to do recently. Niles must be worried that he’s dropped down the pecking order even further now that Cedric has proven he can do a job on both sides.
My biggest compliment is that this proves we don’t have to waste the little money we have on a second choice left back.
With Tierney’s and Bellerin’s history of niggling injuries, expect Cedric to get more game time based on this display. Which is progress for a player who sometimes has struggled to even make the bench.
When you get the opportunity you have to make it count. Cedric was so good on Tuesday night it would be harsh to drop him for the next game.
We point out when Mikel Arteta makes mistakes. I myself criticised (and maintain) that he was wrong to not take Saturday’s game more seriously, but it’s only fair to equally speak up when a coach makes a decision that works to perfection.
The Spaniard realised that Niles wasn’t working at left back, he didn’t want to ask Saka to come back into defence, so spotted Cedric’s ability and believed he could adapt to a new role
There’s classic examples of how Arsene Wenger taught players new positions. While it’s too early to say that’s what Arteta has done with Cedric, it’s positive to see Arteta trying new things at the back.
After a difficult few months before Christmas, we must give credit to Arteta for not letting it damage his confidence and believing in his convictions.
For a rookie manager these types of moments are crucial in a young career.
A good night’s work, in more ways than one.
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