Presently, Arsenal look like a well oiled machine, playing under a smart, reactive manager, with two in-form strikers who recently helped take the club on an 11-game winning streak. However, there are evident weaknesses in defence, particularly at left-back.
Unai Emery has two options to choose from at the moment; 32-year-old Nacho Monreal and 25-year-old Sead Kolasinac. Many Arsenal fans will tell you that, if you were to combine the two, you’d have almost the perfect No.3.
The Spaniard is an excellent reader of the play, who’s intelligence on the field and good footballing brain allows him to be quick in the tackle and an effective interceptor. However, his athleticism is inevitably waning. With limited pace, Monreal is ineffective in one-on-ones against quick opposition wingers, whilst he is unable to take on full-backs himself when looking to go on the offensive.
In stark contrast, his Bosnian colleague possesses all the physical attributes you would want in a modern day full-back; speed over long distances, power, brawn and ready to get to grips with the opposition. Having said that, his football brain is poor. The former Schalke man’s decision making can be woeful, whilst his positional awareness is lacking by some distance.
In essence, you can’t really teach an old dog new tricks. Monreal seems too far gone from his formative footballing years to be able to improve as a player any more. Kolasinac is by far the more coach-able option at 25 years old.
However, Arsenal do need some investment in that department, and Valencia’s Jose Gaya should be top of Emery’s wishlist. The 23-year-old has been one the most eye-catching players in his position in recent years, displaying unerring consistency in La Liga.
The Spaniard is rapid, incisive, a good crosser of the ball, and still has bags of room for improvement. Additionally, seeing as Emery has managed in La Liga for several years with Sevilla, he must be aware of Gaya’s talents.
The north London side look well stocked in other areas, but the left side of defence needs some serious investment if Arsenal are to be serious title contenders anytime soon.
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