One of Arsenal’s earliest signings of the summer was the former Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner. He came in to provide the perfect balance of competition and support to allow the Hector Bellerin to flourish.
The Swiss international’s abilities are a complete opposite to those of the Spaniard. We’re going to look at just how different their styles of play are and how they’d affect the team.
Three Key Differences: Hector Bellerin v Stephan Lichtsteiner
Speed v Reading of the Game
There’s no doubt Hector Bellerin is arguably the quickest defender in the Premier League, if not Europe. The modern game is evolving and so are full-back; their job has become a lot more than just defending. Bombing forward and providing an extra man in attack leaves a lot of space at the back for the opposition to exploit. It’s the main reason as to why modern full-backs are more fit and lean these days. Hector Bellerin’s recovery time, if he’s coming back to defend or just got turned over, is his most valuable asset.
However, Lichtsteiner is a 34-year-old defender who spent the last seven years in Turin under defensive-minded managers like Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri. That has improved his reading of the game immensely having sat back and defended deep. Lichsteiner’s age also meant he had to improvise and adapt to the league. He conserves his runs efficiently and positions himself wisely.
Young Determination v Title-Winning Experience
Hector Bellerin’s Champions League debut came on the 16th of September 2014 in a 2-0 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund. However, he was a changed player after that abysmal showing, putting in performance after performance in the league and cups. Bellerin’s will and determination to prove his doubters wrong is his source of power. As arrogant and unfocused as he may seem off the pitch, he very much reiterates how much he’s thankful to be playing at a club like Arsenal and with their fans.
On the flip side, Lichtsteiner has nothing left to prove. A seven-time back to back Serie A winner with Juventus, including four consecutive Coppa Italia’s with the Old Lady, the 2015 Swiss Footballer of the Year is used to winning and will certainly offer much-needed steel to the Arsenal back four. Arsenal’s back four haven’t looked the best as a unit. Someone like Lichtsteiner may provide much-needed leadership at the back as he’s not the type of person to stay silent if he spots someone slacking.
Strong Offense v Reliable Defense
Hector Bellerin provided two assists versus West Ham as the Gunners ran out eventual 3-1 winners at the Emirates. No Arsenal fan doubts his attacking ability flying down the wing, providing that extra over-lapping man in the attack. Bellerin offers a goal threat as well, with his last-gasp goal versus Chelsea coming into mind immediately.
On the other hand, Lichtsteiner provides a reliable option going forward as well, but his main abilities are at the back when he’s shoving people off the ball. Having been a part of the famous Juventus defence for some time, he’s bound to know how a proper defensive unit is supposed to behave. He’ll have more of an effect on his teammates than Hector Bellerin will for sure.
Hector Bellerin is going to be starting. That much is for sure. Lichtsteiner will be there for support. But he is also good enough to offer just enough competition to keep the Catalunian on his toes. That could be the perfect recipe to see Hector Bellerin spark that flying magic and spirit of two years ago.