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Monreal: The Answer to Arsenal’s Left Back Woes

February 13, 2013

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Two clean sheets on the back of two gritty defensive performances for Arsenal is a massive boost for suffering Arsenal fans. Consecutive 1-0 wins Stoke and Sunderland have gone a small way to answering Arsenal’s critics about their ‘soft’ nature in defense.

One person who may not be so thrilled about the positive turn around is Kieran Gibbs who has been watching on from the sidelines as new signing Nacho Monreal has slotted in seamlessly at left back. In Monreal, Wenger looks to have found the answer to the Gunner’s left back woes. Arsenal got the Spanish international on a cut-price deal due to Malaga’s financial woes and even after only 2 games, it looks to be a very astute investment from Wenger.

Arsenal has struggled to replace Gael Glichy, with a series of tried and failed replacements since. Gibbs has done an acceptable job but his inability to stay fit is a major concern and his poor spatial and tactical awareness has let the back four down on a number of occasions this year already. Thomas Vermaelen has also deputised out wide for the Gunners but the classy centre back looks lost in wide positions and seems to play more attacking in the middle rather than out wide. Which leaves poor old Andre Santos. Gunners fans breathed a sigh of relief with Brazilian side Gremio signing the ‘flop’ on loan for the rest of the season. Santos just looked off the pace from the start and not equipped to handle the Premier League. So many times opposing teams have been able to expose Arsenal down the right flank and his shirt swap with Van Persie at Old Trafford this year really summoned the end for the Brazilian.

But in Monreal, Wenger has found an attacking minded wing back who doesn’t neglect his defensive duties. Strong in the air, a great crosser of the ball and a player that knows where he needs to be in relation to his back four. Too many times this year Arsenal’s back four have held their hand up for offside, only to see Gibbs, Santos or Sagna lagging behind. Monreal looks tactically aware and looks very much at home with Arsenal’s slick passing game. Monreal looks switched on every minute and with the Spanish connection starting to build at the Emirates, the Gunners might yet still challenge for trophies sooner rather than later!

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