Sometimes, deals just happen at the wrong time.
This is especially the case for Calum Chambers.
Last season saw the England defender slot in ahead of Rob Holding, when Laurent Koscielny suffered a serious achilles injury. This was a huge moment for Chambers, and a resurrection of sorts for his Gunners career.
He performed admirably, despite Wenger’s apparent lack of defensive focus. It meant that the future looked bright for him, in the face of almighty change.
When a new manager comes in, every player will inevitably fear for their immediate future. It is the unknown, what will the new boss think of them? Will their face fit? Unai Emery seemed to rate Chambers highly, as an extended deal was the symbol of his trust in Chambers.
After all, why would the Spaniard reward a player, and tie them down to the club, if they intended to plan without them?
So it was a real surprise when Chambers was shipped off to promoted Fulham.
We had Sokratis, Rob Holding, Mustafi, but surely having Chambers in the squad would have benefitted us? Either way, we decided that Chambers needed the extra game time to kick on, but could Chambers have benefitted from a different loan club?
Fulham under Slavisa Jokanovic have shown their tactical hand. They intend to outscore opponents, and their defence is at best – an error strewn, dishevelled mess. They have conceded 28 goals in just ten games. All manner of teams, from relegation candidates to title pursuers have all grabbed goals a-plenty against the generous Cottagers defence, and this lack of organisation can do nothing for Chambers’ development.
Our on-loan defender has been made a scapegoat of sorts by Jokanovic, after playing just 45 mins in the calamitous 4-2 defeat to Cardiff, Chambers was then omitted from the squad entirely for their next game, the 3-0 loss to Bournemouth. Chambers was indeed below par for the loss to the Bluebirds, but he has been able to gain no rhythm, has played at fullback and centre back, and it is clear that in terms of defensive organisation, Chambers is not exactly dining at the top table.
Regardless of if he plays or not, would it not have been best for Chambers to stay at Arsenal and learn the new, and superior, defensive tactics from Emery and his backroom team? A start here and there, but what he would lack in minutes he would make up for in being ensconced in Emery’s methods.
Chambers first priority needs to be to force his way back into the team. At the start of the season, it looked like Alfie Mawson and Chambers would comprise Fulham’s defence – but both have been left out recently. Chambers needs to do what he did at Middlesbrough, and that is shine at an under-par outfit.
Now that Ranieri has replaced Jokanovic, the slate should be clean for Chambers to reassert himself.
Which also means he has been here before, and is learning nothing new. Emery will be keeping tabs on our defender, and when he does return, Chambers needs to reassure Emery that the bumper new contract was indeed the right move.
From England contender to being on the outskirts of the Fulham squad in just nine games. If Chambers can overcome this struggle, then we will know he has mental fortitude to go with his undoubted talent.