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Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics

Calum Chambers: A future midfield option for Arsenal?

Going into this season, not much was certain at Arsenal. With Unai Emery replacing Arsene Wenger, everybody was waiting to see how he’d take Arsenal forward. This was from the style of play to the players that would remain at the club.

During pre-season, Calum Chambers featured frequently under Emery. Despite this, he was still loaned to Fulham. With Arsenal currently threadbare at the back, that could be seen as a slight mistake.

But in this tactical analysis, I’ll look at how Chambers has fared at Fulham and how his game has developed.

Positioning

When he joined Arsenal, Chambers was mostly a right back. However, due to his height, it was recognised that he would soon move more central. The past few seasons have seen that come true as on loan at Middlesbrough and at Arsenal, he played as a centre back.

When he signed for Arsenal, it was also hinted that Chambers could play in midfield. This has come into fruition this season at Fulham.

Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
Calum Chambers’ 2018/19 Premier League heatmap.

Whether it’s in a deeper role in front of the defence or in the middle of the park, Chambers has spent a lot of time in midfield this season. Over the past couple of months, he’s shown that can fulfil the role of a deeper-lying midfielder.

In this position at Fulham, he’s shown that he is able to impact games.

Anticipation

The biggest reason for this has been his anticipation in midfield. As one of the deeper midfielders (usually in a double pivot), Chambers often screens his defence. In this area of midfield play, he has excelled as according to wyscout.com, he makes 7.38 interceptions per game which underpins how he is doing in midfield.

A game which showcased Chambers’ reading of the game was when Fulham hosted Wolves. In this game, the 24-year-old made ten interceptions according to wyscout. Here’s one below.

Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
In this game, Fulham played with a back three which turned into a back five. This leaves Chambers and Jean-Michael Seri to screen the space in front of the defence. Here we see Chambers scanning and spotting Morgan Gibbs-White attacking the space in between the Fulham lines.
Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
After detecting the danger, Chambers acts. He drops back into the space to cut off the cross. More importantly, however, he passes the ball to a teammate who starts an attack.

This is something that is often required of Chambers when in midfield. With this, we can already see that he has the positional awareness to ‘mop up’ which should improve further as the season goes on.

This season, Chambers has also tackled well, winning 2.3 a game according to WhoScored.com. Often times in midfield, this comes from sticking with runners and taking chances. This is something we can see below.

Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, James Maddison broke forward but was tracked by Chambers. He’s forced to lay the ball back to Wilfried Ndidi.
Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
As Ndidi advances, Chambers changes his attention to him and wins the midfield duel. With Fulham’s double pivot so close, this helps them recover the ball.
Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
Seri challenges for the loose ball with Ndidi, but Tom Cairney comes out with the ball. This then sets Fulham up for a counter down Leicester’s right.

The defensive side of Chambers’ game is the primary reason that he is being played in midfield. With this, under Ranieri, Fulham have seen a slight change in form despite still sitting 19th. They’re currently unbeaten in their last three games with Chambers making 24 interceptions in those games according to wyscout.

Passing

However, since his Southampton days, he’s been recognised a player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. This could be another reason why he is being used in midfield. Even in the Arsenal defence, he was able to show on a couple of occasions that he wasn’t scared to be on the ball.

But even though he can play well in possession, that’s only been seen in glimpses at Fulham. Often, newly promoted teams play within themselves. For the most part this season, that is what Fulham have done. With this, at times their play has been less risky, therefore reaping fewer rewards. Chambers has been a part of this as seen below.

Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Chambers picks up the ball in a great position. The ball can instantly be played to his teammate on the right wing and cut five West Ham players out of the game.
Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
However, he chooses the easy option. A sideways pass to Odoi which only gives West Ham an opportunity to get back into shape.

Now, in recent weeks, Fulham have looked more confident on the ball. This could be seen against Wolves where they were unlucky to draw and Huddersfield who they beat. In these games, the confidence possessed could be seen by the risks being taken. This is where Chambers showed that he could be part of a highly intense midfield.

Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
As Chambers receives the ball, he spins away from his marker and plays the ball forward.
Premier League 2018/19: Calum Chambers Arsenal Fulham Tactical Analysis Statistics
He then runs into the space vacated by his marker for the return ball. This has taken Fulham from the defensive to middle third in a split second. He sees Mitrovic in space up top and is able to play a first time pass. Now he has put Fulham on the front foot.

Chambers has the passing ability and awareness to push Fulham forward. However, they must take this approach in more games if they want to survive. With just 73.5% pass completion, however, this reiterates Chambers’ main purpose in midfield. To break up play. However, if Fulham want to stay in the Premier League, they should look to allow Chambers and his teammates to be more expressive.

Summary

Overall, since moving into midfield, Chambers has done a respectable job. Off the ball reads play well and can regain possession which is most important. He has been caught out a few times playing in a more spacious area of the pitch but that comes with experience. I do believe he could be a bit more courageous with his passing also, but that is ultimately down to how Ranieri wants him to play.

Looking forward, many may ask if this would be where he’d play when returning to Arsenal. With Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka doing similar jobs, probably not as a starter. However, I do believe that should he be kept in the summer, he will be used in both defence and midfield at Arsenal. This could also lend itself well for him being used as an Anchor Man between the midfield and defence but we shall see as time goes on.


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