Calum Chambers made his return to Fulham’s starting lineup to earn his fifth Premier League appearance for the club in their midday clash against Javi Garcia’s Watford. The Cottagers conceded early on in the fixture but they managed to salvage a draw thanks to a goal from forward Aleksandar Mitrovic.
Despite signing a long-term contract with Arsenal back in July, the Gunners’ new manager, Unai Emery, decided to send the Englishman out on loan so he could get consistent game time in the Premier League. If rumours are to be believed, a handful of clubs expressed their interest in signing the 23-year-old on a season-long loan. In the end, it was Fulham who were able to finalise the deal to bolster their defensive options.
While the Englishman is a highly-regarded defender amongst the Arsenal fanbase, the 23-year-old has struggled ever since he arrived at the West London club. On his Fulham debut versus Crystal Palace, Chambers was rather average and was at fault for Jeffrey Schlupp’s opener. The defender also had a day to forget in the game against Tottenham. His failed clearance of the ball landed at the feet of Lucas Moura who scored the first goal of the game and he also failed to contain forward Harry Kane prior to his goal.
After the opening two games, Chambers was deservedly dropped from the starting lineup but did make cameo appearances as a substitute versus Burnley and Brighton, respectively. In the midday clash against Watford, the 23-year-old was handed another opportunity by manager Slavisa Jokanovic.
Surprisingly, Jokanovic opted to partner Chambers with Alfie Mawson but positioned the two defenders on their weaker side in defence. The former is more comfortable playing on the right side while the latter has typically been better on the left side of the defence.
On the left side of the defence, the Englishman was partnered with highly-rated teenager Ryan Sessegnon. Due to his terrible performance in the first half, Mawson was brought off for Denis Odoi to partner Chambers in defence before the second half started.
While you can not excuse both Chambers and Mawson for their performances against Watford, Jokanovic does deserve part of the blame too. There was absolutely no need to test and position the defensive duo on their weaker sides in defence, especially when facing a strong side Watford who currently have a lot of players in top form.
For a majority of the game, the 23-year-old looked out of his depth on the left side. He looked rather sloppy in possession and also committed quite a few fouls when trying to tackle an opponent.
If the visitors were more clinical and made the most of their chances in the first half, it would have been a better indication towards just how poor Fulham was defensively in the game. With Watford prioritising long balls into the final third, Chambers struggled against the presence of Troy Deeney and Andre Gray but was able to win six of his aerial duels.
After just two minutes into the game, Chambers was at fault for the Cottagers after his foolish defending allowed Gray to score his third goal of the season. The defender should have done better when he attempted to win the ball from Gray and also should have concentrated on his unmarked run into the penalty area rather than turn his attention to Will Hughes.
Despite producing a much better performance in the second half alongside Odoi, the 23-year-old gifted the away side an opportunity to take home all three points. After spending too much time on the ball, Deeney took the ball off the Englishman with ease but was unsuccessful in finding Isaac Success in the area.
While we’re not even a quarter of the way through the Premier League season, Chambers has definitely had a season to forget so far. In every game in which he’s started in he’s made at least one critical error that’s gone against his side and I’d be surprised if he starts for the Cottagers against Everton next week. However, I’m hopeful that he will eventually turn things around for himself.
Considering the fact that this loan deal was designed to give Chambers more first-team experience in the Premier League, it’s pretty disappointing that he’s not lived up to the opportunity thus far. Arsenal are a team that is severely lacking in defence and Chambers should be using this season as a way of proving to Emery that he’s ready to play consistently for a club of Arsenal’s standards.