Arsenal fans have a lot to be enthusiastic about looking forward to the new season.
Although no new signings have been made, the transfer activity looks promising, with the club looking to add quality personnel to it’s playing staff .
However, the one position that does not need any transfer activity is at left-back with the Gunners well stocked in the form of two high quality players.
Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal are more than capable of playing in Arsenal's side but who who will win the battle to be first choice?
An academy graduate from Wimbledon FC, Gibbs was snapped up as a youngster by Arsenal after Wimbledon’s academy disbanded.
He has slowly progressed his way through the ranks, becoming a first choice defender after Gael Clichy’s departure to Manchester City.
However, his never-ending injury troubles have had him see a stop-start career so far, with him never really establishing himself as a first choice left-back.
Although his potential and quality is undoubtable, Arsene Wenger decided to sign Monreal at the eleventh hour of the recent January transfer window, after Wenger had seen enough of Andre Santos.
Spain's second choice left-back was thrown into the deep end just a couple of days after signing in a physical game against Stoke, but held his own and has been largely impressive barring a couple of forgettable moments - mainly against Tottenham.
Gibbs made 34 appearances in all competitions last season, which is good going for a player who has had constant trouble with injuries.
Monreal, on the other hand, made 11, after signing just in time to play from February.
Both left-backs have comparable statistics in attack and defence. An argument can be made for both players not performing at their peak yet, with Gibbs establishing himself once again after a lengthy lay off and Monreal adapting to his new environment.
Their similar numbers in both attack and defence is surprising given the fact that Gibbs is perceived as better in attack, and Monreal as better in defence. So who will come out on top ?
Wenger’s preferred strategy to use them seemed to be to use Monreal for the away games, and Gibbs for the home games. This might have been perhaps because Monreal is a non-flashy, solid left back who is more conservative in his style, whereas Gibbs likes to romp down the left flank whenever the opportunity presents itself, and is perhaps more adept at attacking than Monreal.
Both have their problems too, with Monreal still not fully accustomed to with the Arsenal defensive system, as demonstrated by his mistakes against Tottenham, and Gibbs still being weak positionally and in crossing - although he has improved a lot in these aspects in the last season and has plenty of pace to burn and rescue himself.
All of this will change in the next season however. With Monreal having a full pre-season to adjust to Arsenal’s tactical set-up and assuming Gibbs avoids his injury nightmares, Arsenal’s left-back battle will be one to watch out for next season.
Although both will get enough games, and perhaps may even share match-time equally, Wenger may need to identify his go-to left back amongst the two for the crunch games.
Monreal’s understanding with Cazorla since his Malaga days may also play a big role, if Cazorla continues to play on the left wing. A case could also be made for them playing together, but that would be a viable option only when Arsenal need to see out slender leads.
Arsenal fans will be delighted with this dilemma as they can finally rejoice at the prospect of seeing two good players fighting it out for a spot, as it will bring the best out of both left-backs.
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