Arsenal have seen the likes of Reiss Nelson excel out on loan this season but, until Tuesday night, Calum Chambers had hardly been pulling up trees in a Fulham team struggling to clamber out of the bottom three. Against Brighton, though, the Englishman put in his best performance of the season so far and just those 90 minutes could be enough to prove to Gunners chiefs that he can still be an asset for them.
The Cottagers desperately needed a result from their clash with the Seagulls having lost their last four in all competitions – including a 2-1 defeat to Oldham in the FA Cup third round – and, with just 17 minutes gone, it looked like that poor run could extend to five games as Glenn Murray put the visitors 2-o ahead.
However, Claudio Ranieri’s men battled back and ended up emerging 4-2 victors, with a brace from Aleksandar Mitrovic ensuring the Serbian scooped both the man of the match award and the much-needed three points.
The big striker shouldn’t take all the credit, though, as Chambers put in a solid defensive shift to ensure the home side could focus on getting the goals they needed, while also chipping in with one himself – quite brilliantly – to fire the Craven Cottage outfit back into the game.
Naturally a defender, the 24-year-old has been impressive in recent weeks when former Leicester boss Ranieri has deployed him at the base of the midfield, and he already looks far more comfortable there despite having spent most of his career in the backline.
The Southampton academy graduate won 6 aerial duels and took 95 touches as he patrolled the middle of the park, and his fantastic volley was the icing on the cake (stats per WhoScored).
There is no doubt that Arsenal could do with him in their ranks right now; they lack physical presence in midfield while injuries to a number of senior defenders have meant they are also extremely light at the back.
They might wish they’d never loaned him out in the first place, particularly amidst their current issues, but what Ranieri has done with the player this season might never have even attempted at the Emirates Stadium. Perhaps there is hope yet for the utility man, who has thus far made just 83 appearances for the Gunners in four-and-a-half years at the club.