It’s never a smart idea to write off players prior to them actually retiring, because let’s face it, we’ve all been proven wrong in one way or another over the years. Whether it be due to a late career resurgence or a veteran player suddenly losing his mojo, you truly never know what is waiting around the next corner. So, with that in mind, we want to try and be a little bit conservative when it comes to discussing the Nacho Monreal dilemma.
Birthdays in football are an interesting thing, because it seems like fans don’t put anywhere near as much stock or attention into what every birthday ‘means’ for a player as they should. Every single time that they turn one year older, it could mean something entirely different for the trajectory of their career. You could go from being in your mid 20s to your late 20s in the blink of an eye, and despite how much the game gets analysed and picked apart in the present day, a lot of fans don’t seem to care. It’s interesting.
Arsenal have beaten Burnley by 3-1 in the 18th round of the 2018/19 Premier League season, courtesy of goals from Pierre-Emerick Auubameyang (14′, 48′), and Alex Iwobi (90′). The solitary strike for the visitors was the work of Ashley Barnes (63′). The Gunners are still in fifth place, but now they’ve equaled Chelsea’s point tally as the Blues suffered defeat at home to Leicester City.
But the result aside for a moment, there were some interesting things to take from this game. Let’s take a look.
Arsenal face a trip to struggling Southampton later today and it is a game on paper that the Gunners should comfortably win. The home sides form and confidence are currently very poor, but there are some issues that suggest this could be a banana skin of a match.
The new boss bounce
One of those issues is the prospect of the Saints prospects improving because of the appointment of new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl. The Austrian has had just one game in charge of the team from the south coast, a 1-0 defeat at Cardiff.
On Sunday afternoon, Arsenal visit Southampton’s St Mary’s in the Premier League, as the Gunners look to maintain their long unbeaten run.
Southampton have struggled for wins this season and the Saints are currently 19th place in the table. The Saints have failed to win in 12 Premier League outings. However, new boss Ralph Hasenhuttl is highly-rated and is expected to improve the home sides fortunes. Sunday’s game will be the Austrian’s first home match in charge of his new team.
On Thursday night, Arsenal host Qarabag in Group E of the Europa League, as the Gunners look to finish the group stage on a winning note.
In reality, this game is a classic dead rubber of a game, with very little riding on it for either side. Arsenal have already secured top spot after winning four of their five group games. Meanwhile, Qarabag are bottom of the group and have no chance of making it to the knockout stages of the competition.
Arsenal may have extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in all competitions against Huddersfield on Saturday, but there was also a downside to the win, as both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi picked up suspensions.
Add the pair to Rob Holding sidelined through injury and the Gunners are left with very few central defensive options.
Who are the Gunners central defensive options?
The return to the squad and fitness of French centre-back Laurent Koscielny could not have come a better time. Gunners boss Unai Emery has allowed the veteran defender time to recover from a long-term injury.
On Sunday afternoon, Arsenal will put their 16-game competitive unbeaten run to the test when the Gunners visit Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.
Bournemouth are enjoying a promising campaign so far. In fact, the Cherries are sixth place in the table, just four points the fifth-place Gunners.
The home side’s good start to the season has been tempered slightly by the fact they have suffered back-to-back league defeats against Manchester United and Newcastle. However, there is still a positive atmosphere surrounding the south coast club, as they had recorded three victories in their four league games prior to the consecutive league losses.
Arsenal boss Unai Emery has revealed that the Gunners Spanish defender Nacho Monreal will not feature in the next two weeks for the north London team. The Spaniard is reportedly suffering from a hamstring injury and he will not return to training until next month. The news is a blow ahead of a potentially tricky trip to Bournemouth for Emery’s team.
Monreal hard to replace
For me, Nacho Monreal is one of the most unsung players of recent seasons. The Spaniard has produced impressive consistency for the Gunners in recent seasons, not matter whether playing as a full-back or a makeshift centre-back.
According to the Daily Mirror, Arsenal and Manchester City are showing an interest in Real Betis full-back Junior Firpo.
The 22-year-old has been in impressive form for the team from Seville this season in La Liga and recently scored in his teams 4-3 win at reigning Spanish champions Barcelona.
Reportedly, his form has not gone unnoticed at some of Europe’s top clubs. Now Arsenal and City are now ready to make a move.