Thursday, September 28, 2023

Monreal: I feel strange at centre back

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.”

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2he0 Walcott

So it wasn’t just the fans bemused by Wenger not signing a centre half. Even Monreal is like WTF?


The only people down voting this comment have to be Wengers immediate family or something close to it, c’mon guys!!!!


Monreal has been quite solid in the start of this season. I would start him against City even with Gibbs apparently back.


Not me. I like Monreal – great attitude, decent defender – but Gibbs is, to my eyes, more assured on the ball, less error-prone, and a half yard quicker.

If both were equally fit, I’d play Gibbs every time.


If they’re equally fit then I agree with you, Gibbs should get the nod. But I have to admit that it’s a lot closer this season than it was last season and I’m really glad for that. I won’t feel the same anxiety if Nacho gets picked ahead of Gibbs against City. There’s something very clever about how he plays.


Ya, glad to see Nacho come good. I’d like to see Gibbs have to work for his place back in the team though I think. Nacho hasn’t put a foot wrong really so think it would be harsh. If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it…

The important thing is we have 2 capable left backs who will push each other all season hopefully.

Big Chief from Antarctica

I noticed when Gibbs got injured and Monreal was brought as his (emergency) replacement, he did the job great. Gibbs came back, Monreal was still playing well, then after a while Gibbs was the more consistent one and getting better with each game. Lately, I was hesitant to see Monreal over Gibbs but Monreal has been suprisingly consistent, delivering crosses and old school defending. I think, even though Gibbs was/is injured this interlull, Hodgson still wouldn’t have picked him because Gibbo made that tremendous tackle against WBA in 2012. I can’t think of any other reason why he’s been selected… Read more »

Gooner from Pretoria.

He seems comfortable in that position though…

#YOLO Toure

He strikes me as the kind of guy that quite often feels strange.

Atletico Islington

I think it’s the eyes that do it

Stuart Steele (@Stuart_Ten)

Monreal ‘He had me playing centre back! So weird!’
Ozil ‘Mate, he had me playing at bloody left wing!’

Stuart Steele (@Stuart_Ten)

..I realise he effectively played there for Germany..but still..


Absolutely right, don’t let anyone trot out the argument that he played there for Germany, so he should play there. He commented himself that he was doing it because the team needed it, but his best position is no. 10. Quite apart from what he said, if Wenger refused to sign Cesc Fabregas because he had Ozil in that position already, then he should play Ozil in that position. Literally, and also, in the position of the guy who the team is built around, just like it was for Cesc. Otherwise not re-signing Cesc makes no sense, and in any… Read more »


I understand your arguments but I think it’s misplaced criticism to question the goals of Arsenal’s management. I feel as though they have been quite transparent about what it is they are trying to do: to compete sustainably in an environment where few top clubs follow the same philosophies and, sometimes, cleverly adapt the rules to fit their agenda and accommodate their absurd resources. I think that, more than anything, the club want stability and progression. Stability means less risk, less risk means slower progression. But if you look at where we are today with the squad and where we… Read more »


Surely the Community Shield counts as one competitive appearance as CB?

Little Mozart

I’ve been very happy with Monreal’s performances at LB and CB since the summer friendlies. He’s playing better and really making a difference in terms of creative vision and reasonably solid defending. He’s going to further develop with each game he starts.


More to the point, I can’t choose between Monreal and Gibbs. Both do very well for us when given a steady run of games. Sometimes maybe they could be rotated in spells of 3-4 games to manage fatigue and avoid injury?

Sorry about the off topic post above, I’m bothered by this the last few days, thinking about the team and how we are playing, and what the owners’ vision for the future is.


To be perfectly honest, I fear Gibbs may solve that problem through injuries. I really hope I’m wrong, as he’s fantastic when he gets a series of games, but he isn’t the luckiest player around.


Exactly. Give Monreal a run of games and he’s good. Leave him to rot on the bench until Gibbs get injured and he’s understandably rusty. What’s wrong with rotation? It keeps players fresh and feeling that they’re a valued part of the squad. This first choice and second choice thing is so old-school dating back to the time when the biggest criticism a pundit could make of a manager was ‘he doesn’t know his best team’. These days we have 25-man squads that are meant to be used to the full. Leaving the despised second choices growing rusty for months… Read more »


I struggle to agree with that, he was good against Boreham Wood, dodgy against the Red Bulls and simply untested against Benfica. I feel no confidence in him at CB against any team with a physical presence, of course my confidence has no effect on how he would actually play in that environment but I’d rather have a proper CB there; maybe Wenger thinks Hayden will be there in 18 months time but isn’t willing to bring him up yet so just cobbles together some cover, I dunno.

supa dupa

Nacho dont worry; you’ll gon’ make it there, I promise this

fresh prince

Community shield isn’t a competitive game. Its a friendly.


An asset to arsenal. Hooe he plays more often to give gibbs regualar breaks.


Haha, rotation? Wenger has unfortunitely become the king of “red zoning” his players fitness due to lack of rotation


trust Arsene over so-called experts on Twitter/comment sections. So yeah, hate on that.


My poor spelling. Sorry 🙂


Square pegs rounds holes. We should be getting used to this by now.


Going on for years & years………I understood it (to an extent) during the transitional/budget years, but now? Absolutely not with the sheer amount of players he tries it with at any given time. It’s ok for 1 or 2, but Arsene has tried to do this with our whole defensive back up & it’s going to bite us in the arse…….we’ve all seen this story unfold before unfortunitely. To keep doing it the same exact way every year is negligent for a club of our stature & bordering insanity. It actually seems to have gotten worse this season!!

Perry S.

Speaking of LB, what’s the status on Gibbs?


whats with managers playing players out of position these days.its not only Wenger


can it be considered total football ?


Not really, seeing as how Total Football is a complete team system & not a coach thinking he can mold 3-4 players into different positions at the same time because he doesn’t think he needs cover for an injury-prone squad, which seems to be the case for the past few seasons.


Hahaha ask Arshavin about weird, he played as a lone striker for half a season while van Judas was hanging out with the medical staff.

Arsenal Wenger

Nasri: I feel strange on the bench


I’d rather say that na$ri feels strange on the pitch


He did well during preseason and is still doing well.I hope he continues to get more game time.


Hi guys,

A bit off-topic but I would really appreciate some advice. One of my childhood friends and a gooner from Pakistan is visiting London this Saturday and since we do not have tickets for the Man City game we thought the best alternative is to go watch the match at a pub near the stadium. I Would love some advice as to where the best pub to go watch the game is.


The Tollington


Twelve Pins is also good…


I agree with both of these.

Jon Orme

I rate Gibbs more, but Monreal is about the best back-up left back you will find. The fact he can fill in at CB in emergencies (And it should only be in emergencies) is a great bonus.



Monreal is a decent defender, but let’s players turn inside him far too easily, whereas Gibbs is much better at showing them outside and then blocking the cross. If he could sort that out he would be very good defender.


Maybe the few games at centreback actually helped Monreal think better defensively and see how a left back positioning can leave the centreback exposed. Maybe that was one of Wenger’s plan all along. We will never know.

fresh prince

Why did I get thumbed down for pointing out that the community shield is not a competitive game.

You are allowed 5 subs for starters, any suspensions picked up aren’t carried over etc etc.


its only real if you win (which we did). otherwise it is a charity/friendly/doesn’t matter game.


Monreal has been good thus far but Gibbs is so much better


I dunno, Monreal has looked shaky when he comes in for just a game now and then but every time he’s had a sustained run in the team he’s looked pretty good. It’s hard to pick between the two based on sustained form.

I don’t think Gibbs would have got us a point at Everton, for example. As much as I like the guy.

Gooner '75

Maybe better keeping that to yourself nach. Not encouraging news but looked ok when played there. Bring on €ity!!

Arsenalogy goonerist

Anyone thinks parking the bus and hitting on the counter is a good idea ?


For lesser sides yes….for The Arsenal? NO


Trouble with depending on nacho at cback is Gibbs brittleness. If Monreal has to be used at centre and Gibbs is still out, then we may have to shift Debuchy across with Young Bellerin covering at RB or Flamini at RB assuming Arteta is fit. It becomes very makeshift. I think the issue of cback reinforcement got complicated by chambers good showing in the position Wenger would have Likely added a young defender23-25 in lieu of meterscielny age at 27++, but with Chambers showing potential, he is that much more picky of who should come in. I expect he has… Read more »


Yeah. I think in terms of CB and DM, we have our eyes on a few and when they become available in the next year or so we’ll have a stab at it, rather than push for it and end up paying 30m for a young LB who loves pies, for example.

La Défense

Monreal is a better attacker than Gibbs. Nacho’s actually has a final ball…

Mark Hughes

So that’s where Peter Crouch ended up after his trip to Spain earlier. If you see him, he needs to come back.


Im not too worried if he plays alongside mertersacker but with either of the other 2 centerbacks we would be really vulnerable.


Centerback is ‘na-cho’ position!

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