Opinion: Is Hector Bellerin returning to his best this season?
Hector Bellerin produced an outstanding performance against Leicester | Photo credit: GettyImages- James Williamson

Opinion: Is Hector Bellerin returning to his best this season?

The Spanish full back is currently enjoying a rich vein of form.

tjwedderburn
TJ Wedderburn

After a starring role in Arsenal's win at home to Leicester on Monday, Hector Bellerin's form has drawn praise from various quarters. 

The ex-Barcelona man has been instrumental in The Gunners' current winning run, which now stands at ten games. After a mixed spell last season, Bellerin now looks to be fulfilling the potential he demonstrated during his breakout season in 2014/15.

Arsenal's secret weapon?

After laying on another two goals for his teammates Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang respectively, Bellerin now has four Premier League assists so far this season - just one away from topping the league assist charts. 

The 23-year-old is renowned for his marauding forward runs, his blistering pace is a key asset to Arsenal, adding width to Unai Emery's, side, who likes his wide players to operate more centrally.

Bellerin's overlapping runs add an extra dimension to a potent Arsenal attack, who currently rank second in the league in terms of goals scored - behind champions Manchester City.

Despite impressing going forward, Bellerin has drawn criticism for his lack of defensive capabilities, with many believing his reliance on his recovery pace can often be problematic. That may be the case, but Bellerin is often in the right place at the right time, evidenced by his 26 clearances in the league, only centre-back's Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi have more.

In addition to this, Bellerin has accumulated just one yellow card so far this campaign, whilst completing nine tackles, a stat which marks an improvement in the Spaniard's timing of challenges. As well as his influence in the final third, Bellerin appears to have matured in a defensive sense. This could be attributed to Emery's stewardship.

Fending off competition

During the summer, Arsenal acquired the services of experienced full back Stephan Lichsteiner. The Swiss international joined on a free transfer from Serie A winners Juventus, and after a solid World Cup, Arsenal supporters could've been forgiven for thinking Bellerin's days as a starter were numbered.

However, Bellerin, who has three full caps for the Spanish national team, has risen to the challenge and made the right back spot his own.

His constant selection in the starting XI is a testament to his mentality as well as his performances, as calls for Lichsteiner to start are now few and far between.

It remains to be seen whether Bellerin can sustain his current run of form, but if he is indeed able to then the Gunners will become a much stronger outfit as a result.

At just 23 years of age, there is still room for development. Should he continue on the upward trajectory, he could well be seen as one of Europe's top full backs before the close of the season. 

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