There were many positives in tonight’s 2-0 victory over Westbrom but one of the most pleasing was Nacho Monreal’s performance – he’s gotta be probably the most underrated EPL player.
We saw again tonight how decent a defender Gibbs is; in spite of that, Wenger and his scouts saw Monreal as someone who could improve our team further and he was swiftly brought in from Malaga back in 2013.
The manager, speaking before the game, said Gibb’s injury record was the main reason he lost his place in the team but, the truth is, he was mostly fit when Monreal came into the team and for a while, the boss alternated them. However, it soon became obvious that Monreal was an all-round better player and Gibb’s was permanently consigned to the bench.
Monreal might not be as athletic as Gibbs going forward but when in advanced positions, he’s more composed, makes better decisions, and generally has more guile and technique.
He’s also a better defender – versatile and equally effective in centerback, left-back, and as a left-wing back when needed. I don’t think there is any other player in the whole of the league who is as adept in several defensive positions and that’s why I consider him the most underrated EPL player.
His on-the-line clearance in the 38th minute is the best piece of defending I have seen in this league for a long time. The anticipation, determination, and technique on show in preventing that Westbrom goal was exceptional.
Lacazette makes us much better offensively and defensively
I like Giroud, he’s a top striker and scorer of great goals. In fact, when we look back at his Arsenal career many years from now – his many goals, the screamers, match saving headers, and his crucial contributions to three FA cup wins – we would be verging on calling him an Arsenal legend.
However, the more you watch Lacazette play (together with Kolasinac), the more you are more grateful for our just concluded transfer business. I don’t think Lacazette through the course of his Arsenal career will score as many breath-taking goals as Henry or RVP, but what he will continue to do is score lots of goals. I’m certain his first hattrick is just around the corner.
- Read more on the Arsenal Transfer Window here.
That predatory instinct, again on show tonight with his opportunist header and the emphatic penalty goal, coupled with his work ethic and mobility is the reason he continues to keep Giroud on the bench.
On the defensive side, he relies on his pace and stamina to come back into our defensive half, win the ball, pass it, and back himself to make it back into the opposition box-18 to be on the end of a cross or pass. In the 28th minute, he did just that again and it almost resulted in a goal.
Mustafi needs to stay on his feet more
Skrodran Mustafi is a proactive, no-nonsense, tough-as-nails defender who makes our team tougher and much more difficult to bully. We saw these qualities against Chelsea where Morata didn’t get a sniff and, again, tonight..
His unique quality is that he doesn’t allow the striker settle on the ball before then reacting to what the striker does, he prefers to put the striker under pressure immediately or win the ball back early.
Saying that, Mustafi has that tendency to dive in and make rash tackles that often result in avoidable yellow cards, free-kicks or penalty kicks, instead of remaining on his feet and staying with his attacker. This, I believe, was the main reason Wenger was open to selling him in the summer.
Tonight, we were lucky that referee Bobby Mardly didn’t award a penalty for his foul on Jay Rodriguez. He needs to cut that rashness out of his game if he wants to remain an Arsenal defender for a long time to come.
Kolasinac continues to impress
This is the third straight article where Kolasinac is getting a major mention. What a player!
The best thing about him is his effectiveness on the ball. No matter how much under pressure he is while making his marauding darts into the opposition penalty-box, he will always always find the composure and vision to choose the right option and deliver a perfect cross or cut-back.
His precise cut-back to Elneny in the 50th minute almost resulted in a goal when Lacazette, having received the pass from Elneny, twisted and got a quick shot away.
Ramsey better number 10 than Ozil in certain games
Aaron Ramsey’s energy, incisiveness, and all-round dynamism coupled with the defensive solidity that the Xhaka-Elneny midfield partnership offered tonight should mean that Ramsey starts certain games ahead of Ozil in the number 10 position, in stead of partnering Xhaka to provide a less defensively-solid midfield.
He offers more mobility and unpredictability playing in the hole and, as a result, it was tough for Johny Evans and gang to contain him, Sanchez, and Lacazette effectively at the same time.
By the way, Elneny had a brilliant game in midfield today. He was available all over the pitch and his passing and distribution were tidy and precise. Elneny might not be spectacular but he is efficient.
Up next… Brighton at the Emirates
Make no mistakes, Brighton at home, just like Westbrom tonight, won’t be an easy game. Chris Hughton knows how to set up his team defensively.
This is another must-win game, not just because we are playing catch-up, but because the champions, Chelsea and most pundits’ favourites and early table-toppers, Man City are playing each other.
This is the perfect opportunity to reduce the gap between us and either or both teams.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Who do you prefer as a number 10, Ramsey or Ozil?
How underrated is Monreal in your opinion?
Share your thoughts in the comments