Tag Archives: nacho monreal

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Arsenal’s International Break

The Good

Mohamed Elneny

Egypt 2-1 Congo

Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes of Egypt’s World Cup qualifying win over Congo which saw his country to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Egypt to win the World Cup: 150/1

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria 1-0 Zambia

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score Nigeria’s only goal as the Super Eagles became the first African side to secure qualification for the World Cup. A 1-0 victory.

Nigeria to win the World Cup: 150/1

David Ospina

Colombia 1-2 Paraguay

David Ospina featured as Colombia lost 2-1 to Paraguay, with the visitors scoring twice in the final minutes to snatch the three points.

Peru 1-1 Colombia

David Ospina and Colombia will play at their second successive World Cup after securing a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Columbia to win the World Cup: 33/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud

Bulgaria 0-1 France

Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud both featured in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria. Lacazette started in an exciting front three with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Giroud was an 85th-minute.

France 2-1 Belarus

Olivier Giroud became France’s joint-seventh top goalscorer as he helped France to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup with a win over Belarus in Saint-Denis. Giroud charged through to double Les Bleus’ advantage just after the half-hour mark. Giroud played the entirety of the game, with Alexandre Lacazette an unused sub.

France to win the World Cup: 5/1

Nacho Monreal

Spain 3-0 Albania

Nacho Monreal was an unused substitute as Spain hit three past Albania in World Cup qualifying.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Monreal helped Spain keep a clean sheet as the former world champions saw off Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, courtesy of a late goal from Asier Illaramendi.

Spain to win the World Cup: 7/1

The Bad

Sead Kolasinac

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 Belgium

Sead Kolasinac played the duration of Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium, where he was booked.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac played the first half in Tallinn as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup dreams were dashed despite them finishing Group H with a win in Estonia. Greece’s home win over Gibraltar meant it wasn’t enough to reach the play-off round.

Aaron Ramsey

Georgia 0-1 Wales

Aaron Ramsey won his 50th Wales cap and assisted Tom Lawrence’s winner in his country’s 1-0 win at Georgia.

Wales 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Aaron Ramsey was on the losing side as Wales were beaten 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, ending their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Ugly

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany 5-1 Azerbaijan

Shkodran Mustafi started Germany’s World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan but was substituted after just 36 minutes through injury as Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying.

Germany to win the World Cup: 5/1

Alexis Sanchez

Chile 2-1 Ecuador

Alexis scored the winning goal in the 86th minute against Ecuador to seal three points for Chile, who are now on the verge of automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Chile

Copa America winners in 2015 and 2016 – but Alexis and Chile won’t be at next summer’s World Cup. The result that saw Chile fail to finish in the top five qualifying spots in South America as a consequence of other results. Alexis played the full 90 minutes.

The Neutral

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland 5-2 Hungary

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying win over Hungary. The midfielder capitalised on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s slip to slot in from close range are just 18 minutes.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland could still make the World Cup in Russia next summer – but his Switzerland team will have to qualify through the European play-off round after losing their decisive qualifier in Portugal.

Switzerland to win the World Cup: 80/1


Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Nacho Monreal, Craig David & Tony Pullis

Alexandre Lacazette

Been a few years since we have had a player who is so lively in the box. Such quick feet, alert, always moving forward, always looking to score a goal.

We have had some brilliant striker sin recent years, all with their own unique abilities, Olivier Giroud – strong as an Ox; Robin van Persie – clinical shot; Thierry Henry – all round genius. But we have not had someone like Alexandre Lacazette since the days of Ian Wright.

He is a livewire. Have to wonder why we did not sign him a couple of years ago.

Mohamed Elneny

Have to wonder if he had cost £30m or name was Jack Wilshire, people would be demanding him to be starting week in week out.

He out shone Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey and is a solid, hard working central midfielder, who can play. Last night his performance reminded me of Ray Parlour in the middle of the park. All action. All hair.

In the limited game time he has played this season, he has outperformed Xhaka. The same go’s for last season too.

I know 90 minute metrics often favour players coming on in the closing stages, but with Xhaka in poor form, Elneny surely deserves a start against Brighton?

Nacho Monreal

The first time I saw Nacho Monreal play on the left of a 3, I knew he would excel in that position.

For your wide centre backs, you need players who can both perform at centre back, as well as cover the wider areas. Monreal, naturally a left back, does a solid job of this. And last night, those who moan all the time about players playing out of position would have finally realised that just because a position is where a player has played the majority of his career, it does not mean that is his position for the future.

At 31, and with Saed Kolasinac coming in, Morneal might have feared his career at Arsenal was over. Instead of complaining, pushing for a move to Spain, he knuckled down and has learnt the position.

With his contract set to run out in 2019, Arsenal need to start negotiating now to extend that by a couple of years. He still has a big part to play in Arsenal’s future.

Arsenal pull a Craig David at home

Started the season against Leicester on a Friday,
Then played Bournemouth on a Saturday,
Klon invaded Islington on a Thursday,
Doncaster in the Carabao Cup on a Wednesday,
And we beat West Brom on a Monday,
Host Brighton at noon on a Sunday,
And then play Norwich on a Tuesday.

OK, I should probably stick to my day job as I am clearly not a lyrical genius, but Arsenal’s first 7 home games of the season are all on a different day of the week. I wonder if that has ever happened before. Maybe a question for the Arsenal History Boys.

Tony Pullis

You’re a knob mate. You are a grown man and you wear baseball caps. You are scumbag who got caught out lying when attempting to defraud Crystal Palace. How does it feel to be £3.77m poorer?


How will Sead Kolasinac fit in at Arsenal

So the deal for Bosnian left back Sead Kolasinac is complete. We are just waiting for it to be nnounced on arsenal.com. Our first signing of the season. Great news.

Kolasinac is a player who many know little about. Unless you watch regular Bundesliga football, you would never have seen him play. I will be honest, I have not seen him. Not one bit. No clips, no highlights, no YouTube. I have never used in on FIFA or signed him on Football Manager.

The majority of stuff you would have read on him so far is by people with a similar experience of him as me. They know nothing. They look at Wikipedia and write an article round that for hits. To try and show that they know about him. When in reality they know almost nothing. So lets try and build a profile as to where he fits in based on what we can research:

Kolasinac is German born but opted to play for Bosnia. It feels like Arsene Wenger’s choice of player at the moment is Central Europeans with Eastern European heritage.

Last seasons two major signings – Granit Xhaka & Shkodran Mustafi – both had Albanian heritage. Add in Mesut Ozil, German born to Turkish immigrants, there is something Wenger clearly likes of these players. It reminds me of the late 90s when Frenchmen with African or Caribbean roots were all the rage.

Having players of a similar background to Kolasinac will help him settle quick. There are players that share is natural tongue, share his religion and share his heritage already at the club. He certainly won’t struggle to fit into the squad. So where does he fit into the team?

Kolasinac has apparently impressed at left back this season for Schalke. We only really know this because he has been shortlisted for the Bundlesiga Team. For all we know, every other left back in Germany could be useless.

If Arsenal return to four at the back next season, he will surely be a shoe-in for left back. Or at the least be competing with Nacho Monreal. His signing would probably mean the end of Kieran Gibbs if we stick to 4 at the back.

If we were to move to 3 at the back, Kolasinac could give us a few options.

The first is he plays left wing back. Having not seen him play, I would have to question the following:

  1. Is he attacking – There is no point playing a wing back who’s natural inclination is defence over attack. We need them to provide width.
  2. Can he cross – The wing backs are the main source of balls into the box, as we have seen recently with both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Hector Bellerin. If he crosses like Gael Clichy, he is pointless.
  3. Can he get up and down – At wing back you need to have stamina. You are expected to be the winger and the full back at the same time. Providing the width, as well as providing defensive cover. Does he have the stamina to go for 90 minutes, and the pace to get back when caught up the field?

I am sure there are some out there who know (and many others who will pretend to know) whether he has the attributes to play wing back.

If he plays wing back, we could see the continuation of Nacho Monreal on the left sided of the back 3. He has played well there recently and could give Kolasinac the natural cover when he bombs forward.

The alternative is to move Kolasinac inside and play him as part of the back 3. At 6ft (thanks Wikipedia) he does have the height to play there, but again, having not seen him play, Iwould also like to raise the following:

  1. Is he defensive – Playing centre back, you need to have good positions. You can make up for a lot of physical attributes if you actually know the role. He will be a liability if constantly out of position.
  2. Is he good in the air – If he cant jump, or head the ball, he will be exposed at the back post time and again.
  3. Is he physical enough – Strikers bully defenders in the Premier League. Rob Holding has shown recently that to excel, you have to ensure you are not bullied.

Personally, having never seen Kolasinac play, I like the idea of him moving into centre back. He looks a physical specimen (in his Wikipedia picture) and being naturally left footed, would bring some balance to the back 3.

The wide centre backs do need to be comfortable on the ball, comfortable at full back when they are pulled across in defence, and be happy getting forward in support of the full back on their side.

On the right hand side, Mustafi fulfils a lot of these requirements. A strong centre back who has played right back. The balance is there. At the moment whilst Nacho Monreal has played well, he does look like a bit of a round peg in a squad hole. Kolasinac could bring the balance to the left hand side with Koscielny marshalling the troops in the middle.

If we stick to a back 3, I would imagine it would be either Monreal or Kolasinac at centre back, with the other at full back. Luckily with no international tournament this summer, we have the time to work on different systems, and different players within those systems, so that we can start the season with the best players in the best positions.

I am just glad we have got a deal done early and strengthened the left hand side of our defence (whether it be at full back or centre back).