Arsenal have three left-backs in their U23 squad – Tolaji Bola, Cohen Bramall and Dominic Thompson, but, bizarrely, none of them were selected to start in their natural position in the 2-2 draw at home to Swansea City this week.
Bola was left out of the squad, Bramall was named amongst the substitutes, and Thompson, intriguingly, was given the number ten shirt and deployed as an attacking midfielder.
The Hale End product has been heavily involved for Freddie Ljungberg’s team in recent months but it was Julio Pleguezuelo, who usually plays at centre-back, who started on the left side of the defence.
Thompson also featured as a number ten in the previous game against Tottenham, but, while it was initially thought that the switch was just a one-game experiment, it appears that it is something more substantial than that.
It remains to be seen whether Arsenal are looking to mould Thompson, who has trained with the first-team on several occasions, into a playmaker in the long term, but playing him there can certainly help the 18-year-old to develop aspects of his game.
Against Swansea, for instance, Thompson made an impressive cross-field pass on one occasion, while playing in that area of the field could also aid his dribbling.
Thompson’s overall performance against Swansea wasn’t especially impressive, however, with the youngster having some teething problems adapting to the demands of the position.
Arsenal U23s are back in action next week when they travel to face league leaders Everton, and it will be intriguing to see whether Thompson is used in midfield again or instead reverts to his usual position of left-back.
With Gedion Zelalem set to leave the club in the near future and Joe Willock seeking to push on and play senior football in some capacity next season, there could well be a chance for Thompson to receive regular playing time in midfield, which may ultimately give him a better chance of succeeding at Arsenal.