It’s no secret that Arsenal’s defence is the weaker half of their team. Offensively, they are up there with the best on their day with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Alexandre Lacazette world class attacking forces. At the back though, things are not quite as outstanding.
Petr Cech provides a solid and vocal presence at the back of the team, while Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac are fantastic wide-defenders that cover the three centre-halves when the opposition’s wingers look to exploit the width of the pitch.
Their real problem stems from their centre-backs then. Laurent Koscielny is a fine defender, but he does have a tendency to make a rash challenge, while his injury record is not perfect and rarely allows a season without absence. Shkodran Mustafi is now facing a lengthy period on the sidelines with injury and his absence will be keenly felt following a number of strong performances at the back for the club.
However, of all of Arsenal’s centre-halves, the best is not actually a central-defender. Nacho Monreal was bought and utilised as a left-back as Arsenal struggled to fill the position. Since Arsene Wenger’s switch to a five at the back though, Monreal has slotted into a centre-back position and played very well.
Of course, this sort of transition is not always seamless, and there were games in which he was run ragged, but he has seemed to have put those troubles behind him and his performance in Arsenal’s 2-0 win over West Brom was one that won him the man of the match award.
While Monreal has had his fair share of critics in recent seasons, Wenger has kept faith with him and he is reaping the rewards. The manager knows that while he has lost a good defender in Mustafi for a number of weeks, he has at least got a centre-back he can usually depend on in Monreal.