Calum Chambers has given a major boost to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger by playing a full 90 minutes in midfield for the club's Under-21 side in their 2-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion. Chambers is among the candidates to replace the injured Francis Coquelin, who will miss the next three months with a knee injury, and the game represented a dress rehearsal for the England international.
The 20-year-old passed the examination with flying colours as the Gunners came from behind to claim victory at The Amex. Ben Sheaf and Donyell Malen gave the visitors victory after Connor Goldson had put the Seagulls ahead, but Chambers stole the show on the south coast.
The former Southampton youngster has made just one Premier League start this season, but his versatility could yet see his opportunities improve. Coquelin is out until the New Year while Mikel Arteta is also absent with a calf problem. Mathieu Flamini filled in the role against Norwich City but Chambers is also a potential option going forward.
"It was great for the lads to play with him," Under-21 boss Steve Gatting told Arsenal's official website. "I think it was good for Calum to get 90 minutes under his belt and for such a young lad he has got a lot of experience. Tonight I thought he was excellent. The boss has seen him play several positions and it is handy for the first team to have a player like Calum. He can perhaps play in central defence, at right-back and in midfield and he gives the boss options and that is good for Calum to play in different options."
Beginning with the match against Sunderland on 5 December, Arsenal face seven games in a five-week period and Chambers is likely to be called upon in some capacity, even if he is not entrusted with a midfield berth. Wenger has indicated that the youngster is an option to play the role following his impressive upbringing at St Mary's.
"It is of course a disappointment to lose [Coquelin] on the longer term but we have players who can compensate," Wenger said according to the official Arsenal website. "We have lost a player of quality for a while and we know this can happen during the season.
"I will give myself time. We have players who play in this position, like Flamini. We have players like Chambers [too], because he has been educated as a central midfielder. Sometimes this is a good opportunity for other players to turn up and show they can do the job."