Nacho Monreal believes regular game time has helped him improve his form this season although he admits being deployed as a centre-back during this summer’s friendlies was a strange experience.
In the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, who were both given extended leave after their World Cup exploits, the Spanish international was thrown into the fray in an unfamiliar central berth alongside new boy Calum Chambers as Arsene Wenger experimented in New York, the Emirates Cup and the latter stages of the Community Shield.
His performances in the middle – relatively understated and error free – seemingly persuaded the boss that he needn’t dip into the transfer market for an orthodox reinforcement. It’s a risky decision, which has had many a fan gurning in dismay and one that seems to have bemused even Nacho himself.
“I feel a little bit strange because it’s not my natural position,” the 28-year-old told Arsenal Player.
“I have only played it two or three times, but the boss one day named me in this position and I will try to do the best [I can].”
While Monreal hasn’t been called upon to play in the centre just yet, he has earned game time this term in the absence of the sidelined Kieran Gibbs. Setting up Olivier Giroud for the equaliser against Everton and helping the Gunners to two clean sheets against Besiktas, he’s looked more reassured than last season.
“I feel very good and I feel so happy because I am here and playing very well,” he reflected.
“I only want to keep doing the same. I am playing better [this season]. One difference is that now I am playing [regularly]. Last season I didn’t play enough and I want to play every single game.
“For me it’s difficult to play one game and then stay on the bench for the next four or five games. When you play every single game you feel much better, you are fitter, your focus is much better. And now I am playing so I am very happy.”
Nacho also had kind words for Arsenal’s August player of the month, Calum Chambers, who he believes has a big role to play at the Emirates both now and in the future.
“Calum has been a good surprise for me because I didn’t meet him too much and also he’s younger.
“He’s played like he’s played for a long time in the Premier League. He’s a good player and an important player for us now and in the future because he’s younger.”