Hector Bellerin is the anti-Rory Delap.
Where Delap was a legend of the long-throw, able to hurl the ball clear halfway across the pitch turning every throw-in that Stoke got into a genuine set-piece extravaganza, Bellerin can’t even throw the ball five yards ahead of him.
Not consistently, anyway. This season Bellerin has committed more foul throws than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues. In four separate games this season he’s failed to throw the ball in properly, twice on one occasion!
- Age: 25
- Club: Arsenal
- Position: Right-back
- Football Index value: £0 (Sell) – £0.54 (Buy)
- 2020/21 Premier League stats: | Touches: 696 (third-highest at the club) | Take-ons completed: 7 (joint-fourth-highest) | Interceptions: 15 (highest) | Crosses attempted: 29 (fourth-highest) | Chances created: 8 (fourth-highest)
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It really was baffling that a player as obviously talented and skilled as Bellerin can’t seem to throw the ball in correctly, but that’s where we are. Bellerin has made five foul throws this season, and what’s most amusing is that he seems to reserve these errors for big games.
Manchester United, Leeds United, Spurs in the North London Derby and then he did it twice against Liverpool. These are the biggest games that Arsenal have played so far this season, so could it be pressure that’s getting to him, forcing him to take bad throws. However that doesn’t explain Man Utd, where Arsenal were winning, so perhaps that was sloppiness?
There’s likely a myriad of reasons but chief among them is that, well, it’s just very Arsenal 2020/21, isn’t it? Not being able to do the basic things correctly, sloppy mistakes in situations you’d expect a club like Arsenal to do better in.
Yet Bellerin continues to stand out as unable to do something that even 8-year-olds get correctly every time. And what’s so dramatic is that Bellerin’s five foul throws is already well ahead of anything managed last season (where no individual got more than one foul throw) or even the season before, where Matt Doherty set the benchmark with 3 foul throws.
You have to go back to Serge Aurier in 2017/18 for someone to beat Bellerin’s total. That season Aurier committed 7 foul throws in the Premier League, a huge number. But one that you’d back Bellerin to beat, given that he’s got half a season to go and he’s just two behind.
Everyone laughed at Liverpool when they hired Thomas Gronnemark to be their throw-in coach, but given how often Bellerin is hoisting up foul throws, perhaps the Reds were onto something?
Frankly, the Gunners should give Gronnemark a call and see if he can fix Bellerin’s wayward antics, because while his foul throws don’t technically cost Arsenal anything they bring shame to him and the club and allow that sense of mediocrity to linger, which when compared to the relentless perfectionism and standards being set Liverpool, really paints Arsenal in a negative light.