Hector Bellerin says he used the lockdown period ‘to do the dirty work’ and now feels his body is performing at the levels he reached prior to the ACL injury suffered in January 2019.
While the Spaniard returned to action at the tail-end of 2019, a series of niggly injuries have made finding consistency and building confidence a slow burn.
In recent months, it definitely feels like he’s gotten up to speed, quite literally. In the FA Cup final, he made a lung-busting run that led to Aubameyang’s winner and timely bursts forward have also been a regular feature in the fledgeling 2020/21 campaign.
Speaking after last night’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield, Bellerin says he’s been on a long journey to get fully fit.
“Yeah, I feel that coming back from my long-term injury was very difficult for me,” he told Arsenal.com.
“I felt like once I was back, my knee felt okay but really my body, in general, wasn’t in the same place as it was pre-injury and I felt during lockdown I had the chance to focus on myself and do the dirty work, as you’d say.
“I’ve come back from it way stronger, I kept working through the summer and now I feel like I’m back to how I felt two minutes before that injury. So yeah, for me it feels good. But the most important thing is that the team is playing better and better every day and that’s what makes me happy.”
Despite positive results against Liverpool in our last two outings, last night’s defeat to the champions provided a sobering reminder of the gap between Arteta’s Gunners and the top of the Premier League table.
Having been patient on a personal level, Bellerin believes the players need to be the same on a collective front as they look to implement and hone a new playing philosophy.
“I think we are working really, really well,” said the right-back.
“I think when you build a new identity, a new way of playing football, it’s not something that happens overnight. It’s something that takes a lot of time, it takes losses, it takes wins, it takes a lot of learning.
“We’ve got new players that have come in this season and they need to get used to the system. So there’s many things but I think we can say that the fight that we put out today, in that sense I’m very proud of the boys and you know, we’ll look forward to the next game playing here.”
Arsenal returned to London last night but will fly back to Liverpool again on Thursday for a second clash at Anfield in four days. The Gunners are expected to rotate for the Carabao Cup 4th Round clash.