Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal explained in an interview for ArseBlogNews that he feels it’s pointless for Arsene Wenger to continuously make changes between himself and Kieran Gibbs across the club’s back four.
Monreal has disputed that Gibbs is a better player and has suggested that the pair face a tense fight over pre-season, as they each look to become the starting left-back for the club in the first Premier League game of the season against West Ham.
“Well, we’re different players. He’s faster than me and defends, not better, we’re just really different,” he told the blog.
“If I’m playing I need to keep playing. If Kieran Gibbo is playing, he has to play. It’s like that. It’s not good to change one or two players just for one game.”
The case for Gibbs
The case in favour of Gibbs being Arsenal’s primary left-back is that he has the speed and fitness to be able to recover when he’s used out wide.
He can press forward and give the Gunners a good source of extra width, which allows the left midfielder to tuck in side.
He’s got the fitness to get back into position quickly, which means the shape and integrity of the back four isn’t jeopardised.
The case for Monreal
Monreal is a more versatile player but not as quick.
That versatility is significant because he can cover for the centre back playing next to him, if that player is caught out of position.
That’s important to Arsenal’s shape if they play a high line and leave a great deal of space in behind, which was a weakness last season.
How does Wenger handle the battle?
For pre-season, the manager just needs to sit back and watch the battle unfold. He’ll be able to judge who’s up for the fight and who’s ahead in terms of fitness.