Football

Nacho Monreal symbolises Arsenal's brilliant 2015

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It's been quite a year for Arsenal. After a second consecutive FA Cup victory in May, the Gunners enjoyed a bountiful summer of trophies and now look set to establish themselves as a Premier League force once again.

Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Francis Coquelin, Laurent Koscielny and Santi Cazorla have all played their part in the club's rise, but there is one player in particular who has quietly gone about his business in a very efficient manner - Nacho Monreal.

The left-back signed from Malaga in 2013 and struggled to impose himself at the Emirates upon his arrival. Regularly ridiculed for his lack of positional awareness and clumsiness, Monreal often found himself playing second fiddle to then-regular Kieran Gibbs.

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However, when the Gunners suffered one of their inevitable injury crisis' towards the end of 2014, the Spaniard was called upon to fill in at centre-half - and despite not being physically suited to the position, he performed admirably.

Monreal was rewarded for his impressive and consistent performances upon the return of his teammates and given his chance at full-back, since which he has thrived. The 29-year-old has arguably been the best left-back in the Premier League this year, with his disciplined performances adding a new found steel to Arsenal's left-hand side.

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Monreal has emerged a player who Arsene Wenger can rely upon week in week out to help nullify attacks and utilise his own energy efficiently when going forward.

Perhaps his biggest task this season came against Leicester City talisman Riyad Mahrez, who has torn apart defences up and down the country since the opening day.

Yet against Monreal, the Algerian struggled to apply himself as the Foxes were brushed aside 5-2.

Similarly, against Bayern Munich, the Arsenal defender kept tabs on Thomas Muller and once again restricted the German forward's impact upon the game.

Monreal is one of a rare breed of full-backs in the modern game who places emphasis on defending rather than flying forward - and it's this side of the Spaniard's game which has benefited Arsenal most.

Right-back Hector Bellerin is the man fans associate with surging forward on Arsenal's flanks, while Monreal provides the essential balance which has helped plug the Gunners' leaky back line.

He might not be the most spectacular or eye-catching full-back to have graced England, but every great side needs a Mr Dependable and Arsenal have certainly found theirs in the former Malaga man.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Thierry Henry
Premier League
Football

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