Sunday, April 21, 2024

Reversion to defensive-midfield required to bring the best of Bielik

Much of what Krystian Bielik has done since joining Arsenal has been rather impressive, so it was a little surprising to see the 17-year-old make a couple of uncharacteristic errors as Arsenal U21s drew with their West Ham United counterparts at Upton Park this week.

Firstly Bielik misjudged a throw from Ben Sheaf and presented the Hammers with an opportunity from which they scored, with the Polish youngster later conceding possession in a dangerous area only for his mistake to thankfully go unpunished on that occasion.

Around this time last year there was a considerable amount of hype about Bielik as speculation mounted that he would be on his way to Arsenal. The move occurred, but, 12 months on, he has a solitary first-team appearance to his name.

Bielik hasn’t even trained regularly with the senior squad this season, but it would be wrong to say he hasn’t developed as expected. He has produced some very impressive performances at U21 level, many of which came last season when deployed in his preferred position of defensive midfield.

This season he has been used almost exclusively as a centre-back at youth level and the results have been encouraging, with Bielik forging an impressive partnership at the heart of the defence with fellow prospect Julio Pleguezuelo.

It is still difficult to shake off the feeling, however, that he is much better suited to playing in midfield. Although he is a player with defensive tendencies, Bielik also likes to venture forwards on occasion and playing at centre-back restricts those instincts.

Furthermore, when playing in midfield he is capable of breaking up opposition attacks before initiating moves for his side. The experiment of playing Bielik at centre-back was designed to enhance particular aspects of his game, with the Arsenal academy coaches seemingly having developed a habit of late to deploy players in different positions (Alex Iwobi, for instance, is currently being played as a central midfielder despite normally being a winger or striker).

It is hoped that if Glen Kamara goes out on loan in the January transfer window, Bielik will move back into midfield in the second half of the campaign. It would certainly be to his benefit, with the youngster preferring to be at the heart of the action rather than only being called upon at particular moments.

He may not have gained as many first-team minutes as he would have liked during his maiden campaign at Arsenal, but it is worth remembering that Bielik is only 17 years old and has already delivered a series of performances for the club at youth level which have suggested that on a tactical and technical level he is advanced in comparison to many players of a similar age.

The best is certainly still to come from Bielik, who remains one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects for the future, albeit as a defensive-midfielder rather than a centre-back.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird


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Hoosier Gunner

Bodes well considering the respective futures of Arteta and Flamini are very much up in the air.
Could he maybe get promoted to the first team as the third or more likely the fourth choice defensive midfielder? Let’s hope so.


‘very much up in the air’ is probably an understatement. i doubt either of them will be playing for arsenal next season. arteta might stay in some other sort of mentor role, but i doubt he will play.


I think we can all agree Flamini and Arteta are not going to feature prominently for the first team next year. Coupled with Coqs injury I think Wenger is looking at strengthening in DM this January when he speaks about the squad being short. The question is who are out there that’s realistically a candidate? Internally Bielik looks an option but could be too early for him. William Carvalho is the obvious choice given Wenger has pursued him before. But beyond that there’s the Bender brothers, Cristoph Kramer, Granit Xhaka, and Porto’s youngest ever captain Ruben Neves. There are candidates… Read more »

good ol' 1 nil to Woolwich

Amen to that last line

Arsenal hurts

Please do an article about Jon Toral, having been injured for almost 2 years he has a “football age” of 18 but still so mature n calm on the ball whenever he plays in a 2 man midfield he seems to me as the perfect fit to partner up with Ramsey for years to come.


I’m full of hope for this kid. He looked an impressive buy when we signed him in January, and he still looks impressive today.

Antony adler

Nice article, thanks. One can forget he’s only 17, we’re all secretly waiting/praying for the new vieira so it’s nice to hear that after he failed to randomly become a new hero at 16, he is coming along nicely behind the scenes!


He can surpass Chambers as first team DM cover by simply going 45 seconds without being sent off


Glad to hear he’s doing well, I imagine he’ll be promoted to third choice after Arteta and the Flam’s move on.


not sure bielik should be blamed for that goal v West Ham, where was the keeper going, although the lad maybe could be blamed for not just heading the ball out, he was clearly trying to be cute and head it back to the keeper, and even if it was not the best header in the world, if the keeper had been where he should have been, then there would have been no goal, but for some unknown reason he had gone walkabout. the second chance was a poor cross field pass alright. overall I thought he had a good… Read more »

Red Ed

How long is this kid gonna be 17 for? I swear he was 17 when we bought him.


His birthday is January 4th so we bought him literally just after he turned 17.

Same birthday as my little sister, but unfortunately she can’t play DM.


So what you’re saying is we’re using the Academy for teaching the players a well rounded skill set regardless of short term gain?

Another feather in the cap. Love this club.


A slow burner. Not everyone leaps into the first team; time will tell, but I think there’s promise. Good luck to the lad.


You only ‘expect Bielik to be ‘reverted’ back into DM because you are obsessed with the need for a ‘DM’.

That solution may come from outside the academy as it requires a certain amount of experience.

Meanwhile Bielik may well return to his “DM’ role but there is nothing to suggest he cannot also make a very successful transition into a Cback.

Kolo Toure did it.


Thumbs up. Like.


Pleguezuelo. This kid is gonna give commentators a hard time.

Naija Gunner

Unleash the Bielik

Emilio Zorlakki

Seen Bielik play a couple of times and my concern is that he appears a little slow to me.Toral’s Arsenal career seems ruined by his long term injuries which you really cannot afford in the developingredients years.Hope I’m wrong, but needs to be outstanding at Birmingham to have a chance. I thought he was the better prospect than Bellerby.


a DM doesnt have to be quick though. They need to be able to read play and be in the right spot to either kill space fror the opposition to run into/pass into, or break up play early.

Emilio Zorlakki

Excuse my typo errors! !


“Bielik also likes to venture forwards on occasion and playing at centre-back restricts those instincts.”

Then i am all for using him as a CB for the time being! That will teach him to not venture forward – since dm’s should be in the mold of Coquelin (who stays back) instead of being like flamini (who is always out of position coz he likes to attack too much)


Koscielny likes to venture forward from cb on occasion, as did kolo toure


And Vermaelen before he got kacked

God is Bergkamp, Bergkamp is God

But with Flamini, he takes it more like a challenge from Wenger:
“I bet he thinks I won’t score if he sticks me back with Ramsey. Well, we’ll just have to show him won’t we?”


I started reading the article, but then got caught up for 15 minutes trying to audibly pronounce Julio’s last name correctly. My kids were looking at me like I had a stroke…..


No Arsenal until Monday….oh Beiliks!! 😉


*Bieliks…oh bollox! Whatever…:-)


Everton are pants, the chavs and spuds are winning – the only the manure match is going well!!!


Bloody Everton. Not only they couldn’t beat the fox but nearly improved their goal difference. Will have to wait again another opportunity

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