Sunday, 6 May 2018

Arsenal Vs Burnley: Calum Chambers and the final push

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 29: Calum Chambers ofArsenal is challenged by Jesse Lingard of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on April 29, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Calum Chambers is pushing to establish himself in the new Arsenal manager’s plans next season. Sunday’s match against Burnley offers another opportunity.

There is nothing for Arsenal to play for in the final few days of the season. They may slip to seventh in the table with a couple of defeats, but in all reality, there is no real difference between sixth and seventh. As such, it kind of makes Sunday’s home match against Burnley somewhat redundant.

It is the home goodbye to Arsene Wenger and much of the pre and post-match coverage will obviously focus on that. And as it should. This is one of the greatest figures in the history of this sport, the greatest manager of this football, and one of the most pivotal individuals of the recent era of the game. He deserves such respect and celebration.

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But between the white lines, there is not all that much for the players to be fighting for. The only thing on the line is their standing in the squad next season, under a new manager whose preferences in style, system and personnel are not yet known. For some players, however, that is quite the opportunity, perhaps none more so than for centre-half Calum Chambers.

The young defender has grown in his role in the final few months of the season, particularly as Wenger has rotated increasingly in the Premier League and with Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny both missing time due to injury, and is now in a position to make his claim for a starting role next season, a case that will be put up against potential recruits in the summer.

Obviously, we do not know what the thinking of the club will be. They must first assess the current crop of central defenders in-house before making a decision about who they may pursue in the summer if anyone, but Chambers will be keen to impress on such thinking.

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With Koscielny absent for the remainder of the year with a ruptured Achilles, Chambers will likely start in all three of the final league fixtures. Allied with his recent impressive displays against Manchester United and Atletico Madrid in the past week, and with another week of good performances, Chambers could make the last push into a regular starting role.

The red herring in the whole scenario is what the new manager will think. We don’t even know who he is, nevermind what he thinks of the current players and potential additions. But Chambers still has the chance to make his case and potentially even move ahead of Shkodran Mustafi in the pecking order.

It’s impossible to predict until we know who the new manager will be, and even then it is not exactly obvious. But that won’t make a difference to Chambers on Sunday. He just has to do his best to impress. It’s the final push and he actually might have more than a chance than some may think.

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