Nacho Monreal has really come a long way from his horror show at Bayern Munich a couple of seasons ago. On that fateful day, he came on as a sub for Kieran Gibbs to the delight of the Bayern players who attacked from his side every chance they got making the rest of the Arsenal players scramble to help him out.
It took quite a while for Monreal to get over that game. It didn’t help that he was straight back to the bench as soon as Kieran Gibbs recovered from his injury. At first glance, Gibbs was the perfect candidate to make the left back position his own. He was quick, using his pace to recover and cut out any danger while also joining in attacks every chance he got and providing the width that Arsenal always try to play with.
However, as time passed, the flaws in Kieran Gibbs’ game became all the more glaring. He often neglected his defensive duties, always relying on his pace to recover and putting the rest of the defenders under pressure.
When Koscielny sustained an injury at the beginning of the season, Arsene Wenger turned to Monreal to stabilize the ship. This stint at central defence worked wonders for Monreal and his outstanding performances did not go unnoticed. Arsenal fans began to appreciate his effort on the pitch.
By the time Koscielny returned from injury, Wenger was unable to drop him and instead Gibbs became the sacrificial lamb. Monreal has continued to put in impressive shifts when called upon and with the rest of the team all fighting for each other, suddenly Arsenal look much more stable defensively.
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Monreal still has one obvious flaw which is his lack of pace but he has learnt to counter that by making sure his positioning is spot on. Now he is one of the most improved players in the league.