Nacho Monreal will turn 31 this coming February, and with Kieran Gibbs showing flashes of qualities offensively and defensively in the last two games will there be a tussle to start at left back at Arsenal in the near future?
When Monreal begins to depreciate in quality, the argument is should Kieran Gibbs be promoted as a first team regular and then sign a young back-up left back/promote a youth player from the academy or should Arsenal turn their attention towards a proven full back who has played football at high-level, therefore consequently keeping Kieran Gibbs out of the starting eleven.
Firstly, my admiration for Nacho Monreal is of a high magnitude. In the last two years the Spaniard has rather been over-looked by the Spanish national team and pundits’ plaudits – however in the last two/three campaigns Monreal has rarely put a foot wrong, but the topic seemingly has to be discussed considering his age and a couple of sceptical performances domestically.
For instance, to put it bluntly, during the Swansea match on the 10th of October Monreal was crucified by Modou Barrow. The 30-year-old did not have an answer to Barrow’s pace – all Swansea’s attacks were coming down Arsenal’s left flank.
Personally, Nacho should still be reassured that he is first-choice left-back as his performances do not merit being demoted yet, however the issue must be high up in Wenger’s agenda, a possible issue that the Frenchman will enjoy considering he has two quality left-backs to choose from.
Statistically, Monreal surpasses Gibbs in a defensive sense: the Spaniard averages 1.7 tackles won per game whereas the Englishman averages 1.28, and also Monreal averages a staggering 3.63 interceptions per 90 minutes whereas Gibbs averages 1.91.
Offensively however, it is a different story. Every 90 minutes Gibbs averages 2.55 take-ons whereas Monreal averages 0.45, and also the Englishman averages 3.19 chances created whereas the Spaniard only averages 0.34 per game. Take what you will from the statistics.
Regarding the argument of the future, should Arsenal sign a young left to follow in the footsteps of Kieran Gibbs, who is 27-years-old. A player that has been vaguely linked to the Gunners is Celtic’s 19-year-old left-back Kieran Tierney who has been revelation since coming to the surface of Scottish Football. The young Scottish full-back, whom has Champions League experience, would seem he is bound for Arsenal considering he is out for 2 months with ankle ligament damage.
The other side of the argument is should Wenger seek a proven left-back to be deemed as first-choice. During the early stages of the summer transfer window Arsenal were heavily linked with Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, and if purchased his price-tag and reputation would suggest he would be bound to start.
Personally, this writer feels they should remain loyal to Kieran Gibbs when the time comes to replace Monreal. Not just because he possesses quality at both ends of the pitch but also his loyalty to Arsenal is admirable. However for the short-term, for this season Nacho Monreal should be given the nod and then the situation should be re-evaluated at the conclusion of this campaign.