Monreal Is Nacho Fall Guy Any More
On the 31st of January 2013 Arsenal paid a reported £8.3 million for Spanish left back Nacho Monreal and Twitter was flooded with all those hilarious "Nacho" puns that didn't ever get tiresome. Honestly. They were funny. So funny.
Monreal appeared to initially struggle and became a fall guy for Arsenal fans with moans whenever he appeared in the starting line up. I think he has shaken off the mistakes and the worries though to become a more than able left back. I'm just not quite sure everyone else has realised it yet.
I've always liked Monreal and thought as a back up left back Arsenal could do a lot worse. I'll admit I moaned when he started at times though but mostly because him starting probably meant Kieran Gibbs was injured again. I love Kieran Gibbs and think he is easily one of the best left backs in the league and underrated by many fans of other teams.
When Monreal arrived though it was easy to see why fans moaned when he started. He made errors and whereas Gibbs appeared solid, Nacho always had that air of "shakiness" about him. He wasn't quite Andre Santos when it came to calamity, I think we can all agree on that, but I also believe he found himself in the wrong position many a time when it was hard to recover should the opposition regain possession. Once again, it wasn't quite Andre "I'm going to play left wing up front defensive midfield anywhere but left back" Santos, but it wasn't great either.
This season Nacho Monreal has improved so much in the left back position in my opinion it actually doesn't bother me in the slightest when he starts. This is not the case for a lot of folk though as there does seem to be that resigned feel of 'Oh no, Monreal' when the starting line up is seen. I still prefer Kieran Gibbs (I love Kieran Gibbs by the way, did I tell you that already?) but when comparing the two in the Premier League, Nacho has won the same amount of tackles (22), made two more interceptions (36), blocked 3 more shots (5) and made 15 more clearances (55) all whilst playing one less game (15).
Stats never tell the whole story. I know that and these stats may have been skewed by the fact that Nacho, due to our lack of defensive depth, had to have a run at centre back earlier in the season. Whilst a centre back is obviously needed I don't think Nacho Monreal performed too badly in the role. I wasn't comfortable with him there don't get me wrong, his height alone doesn't help, oh and the fact he's a back up left back, but he wasn't as bad there as some would have you believe. He did a better job then he was expected to do, let's put it that way.
Let's not forget Nacho Monreal is a Spanish international with 16 caps. Those 16 caps came after Spain won the Cup in 2010. This isn't like Emile Heskey who picked up an extraordinary amount of caps due to the fact England are about as useful as an one armed cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen lake. These were the World and European champions and Nacho Monreal has played for them 16 times.
It's January and Nacho Monreal has already won more tackles, made more interceptions, had more blocks than other players and currently has made zero defensive errors so far in the league. The stats and his performances all indicate a much improved player. Whilst we moan, rightfully so, about the lack of depth in other areas we should be happy with the depth we have at left back. I love Kieran Gibbs, in case you didn't know, and seeing that tackle in the final game against West Brom still makes me want to instantly make love to my wife but Nacho Monreal is now a more than able replacement. It's time the moaning stopped, we're lucky to have him and Gibbs.
He's no longer the fall guy.
Sources for stats - Squawka Comparison Matrixyour own article on YouWrite?
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