Cedric Soares: A deserved call-up
Mikel Arteta hugs defender Cedric after the North London Derby Photo by Stuart MacFarlane via Getty Images

When Arsenal signed Cedric from Southampton last January the feeling was that he would play a back-up role to Hector Bellerin, and for a while opportunities were limited for him due to injuries and Bellerin seemingly being one of the first names on the team sheet.

But since the turn of the year Cedric has been given more opportunities and halfway through March he is currently Arsenal's best right back.

Hector Bellerin is a popular member at Arsenal amongst both the squad and the fans but his performances this season have not been near enough a good level with more foul throws than goal contributions.

For the first time in almost two years Bellerin was no longer a guaranteed starter and Cedric has taken his opportunities and been awarded more game time as a result.

What's changed

The biggest difference between the two right backs is their effectiveness going forwards. For whatever reason Bellerin seems to come inside more limiting the space for him and others.

Cedric likes to stay right on the wing and go on the overlap meaning he has more space and can put in better crosses than Bellerin. Staying wide also enables the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka to run in space inside of Cedric meaning they can both be more effective when Cedric is playing rather than Bellerin.

Cedric has also done a very solid job at left back as well filling in for Kieran Tierney when he was injured in particular against Southampton and Benfica where he grabbed himself an assist for a crucial goal.

Cedric impressed against Leicester City Photo by David Price via Getty Images
Cedric impressed against Leicester City Photo by David Price via Getty Images

And when he has been played over Bellerin he has really performed well against good opposition. Against Leicester he was a key part of the success in a game which saw Pepe grab a goal and win Man of the Match.

In Sunday's north London derby him and Saka combined really well in an attacking sense and did not give the dangerous Reguilon any opportunities to go forward.

He was incredibly unlucky to see a sweet strike from outside the box crash the post. Spurs tried to nullify Cedric and Saka by bringing extra midfield help but this just enabled Emile Smith Rowe and Tierney to enjoy the extra space they had.

What next?

Cedric has had to be patient and now he is being rewarded with a good run in the side. As of now he is Arsenal's best right back and he has now been called back up to his national side in Portugal and although he has stiff competition in Joao Cancelo hopefully he is given an opportunity to impress as he will definitely want a place on the plane for the upcoming Euros.

Cedric may not be the final answer at right back for Arsenal to get to where they want to be but right now he is the best option and a key part of the success Mikel Arteta's side is enjoying.

If a better right back comes in Cedric will still have a part to play in terms of competition and squad rotation and his ability to play on the left gives him an important part to play at the club next year.