Piers Morgan criticises 'unconvincing' Arsenal defender - Is he misguided?

Nacho Monreal Arsenal 2

Spanish international Nacho Monreal has been a dependable figure for Arsenal all season long, but not everybody is convinced.

Nacho Monreal exemplifies Arsenal's strength in depth, with Kieran Gibbs seemingly Arsene Wenger's first choice at left-back, having a Spanish international in reserve is a pretty good option.

It's the lack of this type of strength which has seen Arsenal falter at key moments in the past when they have had injuries, but not this season.

27-year-old Monreal helped Arsenal to a 2-0 win yesterday, his fourth individual Premier League clean sheet of the season, in 16 appearances.

Yet he was singled out on Twitter by Arsenal fan Piers Morgan as 'unconvincing' after the victory over Crystal Palace, is this unfair?

 

We decided to look at a few stats to see if Monreal really does represent a weak link in the Arsenal back line:

PlayerClean Sheet /
Apps
AppsMins
Kieran Gibbs 0.25 20 1,471
Nacho Monreal 0.25 16 709

Up against fellow left-back Gibbs, Monreal has a clean sheet in 25 per cent of his Premier League appearances this season, exactly the same proportion as the Englishman. Clearly him coming into the side is of no detriment to Arsenal, the team no worse off for his inclusion.

Individual Stats:

PlayerInterception Won / appsWon Tackle / appsEffective Blocked Cross / appsAccurate Cross / apps
Kieran Gibbs 1.85 1.65 0.25 0.45
Nacho Monreal 0.88 0.94 0.56 0.31

Monreal comes out second best to Gibbs in three of four key full-back stats, blocking more crosses, but making less interceptions per game, winning less tackles, and his own crosses less accurate. However being second best to Gibbs, doesn't necessarily make him unconvincing.

Only one stat really backs Morgan's argument up:

PlayerError Lead To Shot
Nacho Monreal 3
Laurent Koscielny 2
Per Mertesacker 2
Bacary Sagna 1
Kieran Gibbs 0
Carl Jenkinson 0

The stats above relating to Premier League games only, Nacho Monreal has made more individual errors leading to opposition shots on goal than nay other Arsenal player. This also comes in less appearances than several of his teammates.

The positives are not one of those errors led to a goal, and they are very small numbers when judged across a whole season.

Arsenal's defence this season has been superb, conceding just one goal in their last 11 games, a quite staggering record.

We might go as far to say there are no weak links in their armoury.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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