Tag Archives: nacho monreal

What does Nacho Monreal’s contract extension mean for Sead Kolasinac?

Arsenal have (reportedly at the time of writing) taken up the option of extending Nacho Monreal’s contract by a further year.

The Spanish international joined the club On 31 January 2013 for a fee believed to be around £8.5 million. In the 6 years he has been at the club, he has proved to be a very good signing, and has consistently been in the top 3 or 4 left backs in the league.

In recent years, he has also shown his worth on the left side of a back 3. Something which Unai emery might consider if he continues to play with 3 at the back.

Monreal turns 33 in February, so his career is coming to an end. However he has never been blessed with electric pace – relying on good positioning in defence and smart movement and solid crossing in attack. There is certainly still another 18 months in himat the top level.

But what does the contract extension mean for Sead Kolasinac?

The Bosnian clearly can not play in a back 4.

Unai Emery and Arsene Wenger before him have changed from a back 4 to a back 3 to accommodate Kolasinac. This is not a long term solution as defences rely on continuity. Both of personnel and system.

This summer Arsenal need to go out and buy another left back. A younger player who can be Monreal’s long term replacement. Ideally already good enough to play ahead of the Spaniard next season. Monreal then acts as back up / cover for his younger team mate.

This leave Kolasinac in a position where, at left back at least, he is surplus to requirements.

So what are Arsenal’s options?

Cash in

We have spoken before about Arsenal selling poorly. Arsenal would easily command a fee in excess of £20 million if they sold Kolasinac. Many clubs both at home and abroad would pay that for him.

If he is not a long term solution, cash in over the summer and reinvest those funds. Monreal is then cover and competition for the new left back, then in 2020 we can explore signing someone to replace Monreal as that cover (or promote from within).

The likes of Ben Chilwell, Ferland Mendy or Kieran Tierney for under £30m. Cashing in on Kolasinac would fund almost all of the transfer fee of a new left back.

Moving him forward

Kolasinac is dangerous in the final third. He is able to muscle his way to the bye-line and get quality crosses in. He has been one of Arsenal most creative players this season.

There is an argument that you can buy a new left back, keep Monreal for a year, and keep Kolasinac as a winger.

Getting forward from the wing is different from left-back, however.

He often makes runs from deep, into space that has been created by his winger (usually Alex Iwobi) dropping inside. When he starts further up the pitch, he has less space to get up to speed in, and would have less space to operate as the opposing full-back would follow him instead the winger.

is left footed and would hug the touchline. He would not be ideal as a regular starter wide left, but he would give Arsenal an attacking option off the bench.

Another option would be if we are chasing the game, to take off the left-back and put Kolasinac on. Sacrificing for the defence for someone who can get forward more and provide quality.

Likewise when defending a lead, he could be bought on to provide further cover for the left back, whilst still offering a threat going forward.

You often saw Arsenal do this in the past when they had Emmanuel Eboue and Bacary Sagna.

Moving forward, Kolasinac would also then double up as the cover for the full back when Monreal leaves.


By renewing Monreal’s contract for a further year, it gives us plenty of options in the summer. Keep Kolasinac. Sell Kolasinac. Use him as a winger. Use Monreal on the left of a back 3.

What is for sure is that we need to buy a long term left back option.

Keenos

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9 went, just ONE remains

EIGHT  Arsenal players were selected to go to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. This increased to 9 once Arsenal announced a pre-contract agreement with Stephan Lichtsteiner. Of the 9, just one remains.

First to be knocked out was Mohamed Elneny’s Egypt.

With Mohamed Salah still crying over hurting his shoulder, Egypt finished bottom of their group as one of only 2 sides to fail to get a point – the other being Panama.

Alex Iwobi’s Nigeria still the hearts of millions with their popular kit, and would probably consider themselves unlucky to have been knocked out in the group stages.

In one of the toughest groups alongside Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, they were looking like going through at Argentina’s expense until an 86th minute goal by Marcus Rojo destroyed the hopes of a nation; and at the same time the behaviour of Diego Maradona shaming a nation.

The coked up drug treat showing that he was not becoming classy with age by making offensive hand gestures towards Nigeria fans at the final whistle. And getting paid by FIFA to do so.

Mesut Ozil took the brunt of the blame for Germany’s group stage exit. The strong criticsm feels like it has a nasty undertone as Ozil was certainly not amongst the worst players for his national side.

Ozil is a little bit different. A Muslim of Turkish heritage. Whilst the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich escaped criticism, Ozil became a figure of hate within Germany. However Germany’s early exit could benefit Arsenal as there is talk that he could now retire from playing for his country.

Joel Campbell’s Costa Rica finished bottom of a tough group that contained Brazil, Switzerland and Serbia. He set up a goal and one a penalty in their final game, but he and his country failed to hit the high notes that they did 4 years ago.

Spain would have been delighted with their last 16 knock out game tie against lowest ranked (and hosts) Russia. They lost on penalties, sending Nacho Monreal home. The Spaniard has basically had a 2 weeks holiday in Russia as he failed to play a game.

Another surprising result, although not as severe, was Switzerland losing 1-0 to Sweden sending home Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner.

In the final game of the last 16, England knocked out Colombia on penalties.

Keeper David Ospina could have been the hero, saving from Jordan Henderson. But two missed penalties from Colombia and then Ospina’s weak wrists saw the South American side get knocked out, upsetting that coke head Maradona.

England and Welbeck were through, Colombia out.

With pre-season training already beginning, Arsenal have a strong 16 players already back at London Colney preparing for the new season.

The early exits by some  means that the likes of Mesut Ozil could well return for the first game of the season against Manchester City.

Is the ideal final England v Uruguay? 0-0 when Lucas Torreira breaks Harry Kanes face, Welbeck comes on, scores, England win 1-0.

It’s coming home guys, it’s coming home.

Keenos

Arsenal to revert to 4 at the back?

It was early April 2017 when Arsene Wenger made the move from 4 at the back to 3 at the back.

We had just been taken apart away from home to Crystal Palace, and were on a run of just one win in 8 in the Premier League. We had also been knocked out the Champions League 10-2 on aggregate by Bayern Munich. Things we bleak.

Against Middlesbrough, Wenger tried out 3 at the back. We were unconvincing in a 2-1 victory.

The next game cemented the formation change, as Arsenal beat Manchester City in the FA Cup. A victory against Leicester followed before Arsenal went to White Hart Lane and lost to Spurs. That defeat would prove to be Arsenal’s lone loss post-Palace as the side won 8 out of 9 games, including the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

Fast forward 8 months and it feels like we are at a crossroads once more. Having failed to win 7 out of 16 games, Arsenal are out of the title race by December.

It is not just how many points we are behind Manchester City that it is a concern, but how many games where we have looked shakey at the back, and toothless upfront. Even games which we have won this season, many have been unconvincing victories.

Is it time that Wenger dropped 3 at the back at returned to 4 at the back?

There are many things to consider

Nacho Monreal

One of the losers in the switch will be Nacho Monreal.

The Spanish full back has been one of our players of the season playing on the left hand side of a 3 man defence, but playing in a 2 man partnership is very different to playing in a 3 man partnership, and Monreal will lose out.

Sead Kolasinac has also been a stand out performer, and it would be illogical to drop him for Monreal.

Hector Bellerin

On the other side of the pitch, Monreal’s international team mate would actually benefit from the switch.

Bellerin has been poor this season. He has neither the skill level or crossing ability to be our main outlet out wide.

In the back end of last season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain excelled at right wing back, as he bought an attacking players ability to the wing back position. Bellerin is better in defence, but not as good going forward.

Returning to 4 at the back would see Bellerin play a less important role going forward, and this will be a positive.

Who in the middle of the defence?

Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny looked shakey in a two together last season, and time is winding down for Per Mertesacker. Rob Holding and Calum Chambers look further away from the first team than at any point in their Arsenal careers.

That would lead to Mustafi and Koscileny being the only option. But is it solid enough?

Formation, formation, formation

If we go to 3 at the back, there is a huge debate to be had as to the make-up of the midfield.

Once view is to go 2 up top. Play Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud together. Mesut Ozil in behind, then a solid midfield 3 of Grant Xhaka, Aaron Ramsey (who is now injured) and Jack Wilshere.

Whilst the midfield 3 would certainly provide more cover, the midfield would end up very narrow. And then what is the point of playing Giroud with a narrow midfield – he relies on service from out wide.

The answer would then be that the full backs provide the service, but that in turn exposes the defence which at that point will have two central defenders rather than the current 3. And it brings Bellerin back to being the main creator on the right.

The second option would be to go back to 4231 with Danny Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and Ozil playing in behind a loan striker. There is some debate as to whether it would be better for Lacazette or Giroud to be that loan striker.

4231 would also see old problems be exposed as Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are incapable to shielding the back 4.

A final solution could be the old Christmas tree. Play Ramsey, Wilshere and Xhaka in central midfield, with Ozil and Sanchez ahead, then Lacazette up top on his own.

Whilst this would put expectation on the wingers once more, Ozil and Sanchez would be able to drift out wide to assist them – Like they have done this season when we have bought Giroud on to chase games. Also the lack of Giroud would mean that our game is no longer all about getting the ball out wide.

And what if someone leaves?

Ozil or Sanchez leaving (and depending on who would come in) could also alter the decision making process.

Someone like Thomas Lemar is an old school winger, he will get quality balls into the box. He would suit someone like Giroud.

Whilst the likes of Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka are more centrally based players who would suit the narrower formation of playing Lacazette, and the flexibility to drop into wide positions when required.

Time to sacrifice the league?

Maybe the long term solution will be to sacrifice the league this year? We are not going to win it, so perhaps we should use the Premier League to experiment and prepare the team for the Europa League and FA Cup.

We have 7 games until Nottingham Forest away, and then another potential 8 games until we face Ostersunds.

That is plenty of time to decide on, train and implement a new formation to concentrate on competitions that we still have of winning.

One thing is for sure, it is not going to be as easy as simply going to 4 at the back. There is plenty to think about.

Keenos