Following an extremely shaky start to the 2014/15 campaign, Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has settled down and turned in a string of top-level performances for the north London club. Monreal’s stumble out of the gate coincided with his emergency fill-in at the center-back position due to an injury to Laurent Koscielny.
The 5’10” Monreal seemed out of place for much the time during his nine total appearances in central defense. However, since his return back to his normal left-back position, the Spaniard has been nothing short of brilliant.
When Monreal arrived from Malaga a little over two years ago, the then 26-year-old was seen mostly as a cover for the talented yet injury-prone Kieran Gibbs. While the England international has garnered praise for his play (and rightly so, he is a phenomenal defender), Monreal is currently manager Arsene Wenger’s first choice left-back.
The now 29-year-old occasional Spain international recently spoke to the official Arsenal website about his confidence and adjustment to the Premier League. Monreal stated, “I feel really good living in London, I’m very happy living here and playing for Arsenal. I think I’m more British now. It’s always difficult, coming to London. It’s another country, another language, different football.”
“It’s never easy, the first months are the worst because the life is not easy. You have to find a house, you have to meet other players, learn English as quick as possible, it’s never easy.”
The defender went on to finish, “I think that I’m playing really well because I’m playing a lot of games. I feel fit and my confidence is very high. Every player who plays for Arsenal is here because they are a great player not just good players. You need minutes on the pitch, that is the best way to play well.”
Monreal is certainly playing well at the moment. In fact, he has started 11 of his team’s last 14 Premier League matches at left-back and has had a match rating below seven just once (via WhoScored) over this time frame. Monreal’s inclusion in the Arsenal starting XI has also come at the same time of the club’s current rise in form.
Arsenal has recorded eight consecutive victories in Premier League play and have won 10 out of Monreal’s last 11 starts at the left-back spot. The Spaniard has also contributed positively to Arsenal’s FA Cup run.
Monreal’s marquee moment in the prestigious competition came when the Gunners defeated rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on March 9th. The Arsenal victory was possible due to the immense performance by Monreal, as the defender scored the opening goal in the match and was most likely the Man of the Match.
Current Gunners captain, Mikel Arteta, hailed Monreal following the massive FA Cup match. The fellow Spaniard said, “He took his goal very well and I think he’s been one of our most consistent players this season. You know what you are going to get when he’s playing – he’s very focused, very determined in every action.”
A determined and focused Monreal is gigantic for the Gunners. Along with Gibbs, the duo make up one of the best left-sided defensive tandems in England.
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