Arsenal’s weekend game against Swansea was a tightly contested affair, with the result in doubt until late into the second half. The Swans had already taken six points off us in the previous season, and looked set to do so again as they got off to a positive start. Bafetimbi Gomis and Jefferson Montero in particular were dangerous, with the striker coming very close to scoring on a couple of occasions. However, a determined performance by Hector Bellerin and Petr Cech kept them at bay.
But even when we started to score in the second half, the Swans had their chances. One of the most noteworthy fell to Andre Ayew, who received the ball and then dribbled past Cech to have a shot at a completely open goal. Luckily, he was offside, but Bellerin did not know that. The right back raced across the box and threw himself into a slide across the face of goal; managing to kick the ball clear before crashing hard into the goalpost. The effort was ultimately in vain, but the dedication shown by the defender has won him even more admiration from all sides.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, Bellerin revealed that he was so caught up in the moment that he did not even register the goalpost in his way (via Arsenal.com). He admitted that playing for the team was his primary motto, and added that the increased team spirit was one of the primary drivers of Arsenal’s success this season.
“I literally dived in, I didn’t even see the post and the ball but he was offside so it didn’t work! But you always have to try and help, which I did and it is the thing you have to do for the team.
“I think everyone has the same purpose this year, we are very focused. We are doing really well and sometimes things are not going to go our way, but even in the first half we were looking a bit shaky and in the second half we did the job. I think it is important that the team doesn’t give up and plays until the end. That is the same way we want to keep going.
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“We have to go game by game. We had to focus on Swansea and we knew it was going to be hard. They are a very physical side and they are quick, but now it is time to focus on Wednesday [against Bayern Munich] as we know it is going to be very, very hard.”
Speaking after the game, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised the development of the young Spaniard over the course of the previous year (via Arsenal.com). He said, “He [Bellerin] made big tackles. He is getting better defensively. Hector was always known as a offensive player and he becomes now a complete defender and keeps his forward qualities.”
Bellerin’s pace is a potent weapon, it allows him to get forward regularly, contribute to offensive moves, and also create them. The interception leading to our second goal against Bayern was a prime example of his talent. But unlike someone like Gibbs for example, his pace is backed by great vision and defensive awareness as well. The way he deals with wingers like Douglas Costa and Jefferson Montero, and refuses to give up is one of the reasons our defence has been so successful this season.