With this season approaching the final stretch it’s almost the time for most fans to start looking ahead to the new faces of next season. But with Arsenal seeming anything but a normal club at the moment, fans have had their eyes on new arrivals in some positions for a while now.
One of the most in demand positions to strengthen this summer is at left back. With the position currently filled by an ageing Nacho Monreal, fans feel that his position is a must when it comes to bringing in reinforcements at the end of the season.
Sadly for the Spaniard, performances haven’t been as impressive this season compared to in the past which suggest it is time for the 31-year-old to be replaced. In the last couple of seasons Monreal has quite comfortably kept his place in the starting 11 which may have surprised most Arsenal fans when he first joined from Malaga in January 2013.
He’s produced impressive individual performances like against Manchester City when he won a penalty which contributed to Arsenal’s 2-1 win at The Etihad but is his time up in the first team. The stats would suggest he’s still got it in him to continue there, averaging a better amount of tackles and interceptions per game than Hector Bellerin (2 tackles and 3 interceptions). But as we know, stats don’t tell the whole story, with Monreal clearly not having the same impact on the pitch as he did a couple of seasons ago.
Enter Kieran Gibbs, who’s been at Arsenal for what seems to be forever, the 27-year-old has never quite fully established himself as Arsenal’s number one left back but this could be his opportunity. Being handed the captain’s armband by Arsene Wenger on a number of occasions this season, it’s clear that the boss has respect and belief in Gibbs so why couldn’t he make that spot on the team sheet his.
Unfortunately for Gibbs it seems Arsenal fans have gotten used to seeing him as a second choice left back and some think he is better as a deputy. However, unlike Monreal, Gibbs has pace on his side which helps him when going forward as well as when coming back to defend his wing. Who knows maybe him and Arsenal’s other flying full back Bellerin could be used as wing backs like Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses at Chelsea.
Talking of Arsenal’s other Spanish full back Hector Bellerin, there has also been criticism coming his way. To be completely honest there haven’t been many star performers in the squad of late and Bellerin, surprisingly, isn’t one. Since bursting into the Arsenal starting 11 in the 2014/15 season he’s hardly put a foot wrong but recently his inexperience has been pushed to the forefront.
One of the biggest criticisms of Bellerin has been his defensive positioning, which his pace makes up for at times. This was up for everyone to see in Arsenal’s 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in early March, when he left free space behind him for Firmino to score the opening goal of the game. But it’s clear that he’s Arsenal’s best option there at the moment so maybe more focus needs to be put on Arsenal’s back four in training, especially after the 10-2 aggregate thrashing from Bayern.
Even though Bellerin is Arsenal’s best option at right back at this moment that doesn’t mean reinforcements don’t need to be made. With Calum Chambers (On loan at Middlesbrough) being played more as a centre back these days and Matheiu Debuchy mostly getting minutes for the under 23’s, another right back is needed at the club.
One name that Arsenal fans have probably got familiar with in recent years is Serge Aurier. Currently at PSG he could be a great option alongside Bellerin, and could maybe be someone Bellerin can learn from on the pitch. The Ivorian is also quite a pacey right back but having played in the 2014 world cup as well as winning Ligue 1 twice the 24-year-old could help improve the Spaniard as well as himself. With Bellerin’s final ball also lacking a bit Aurier could bring better delivery to Arsenal’s right flank which has been missing since the departure of Bacary Sagna.
On the left hand side is another name Arsenal fans should know by now, Ricardo Rodriguez of Wolfsburg. With the Swiss left back heavily linked to the Gunners last summer Arsenal fans would probably hope that this year he does make the move to North London. Having contributed more going this season than Arsenal’s number one left back Monreal (2 goals, 3 assists) maybe he would bring the same excitement Bellerin brings on the right hand side to the left.
But with Arsenal bringing one ex-Southampton player back in the summer in Chambers, why not bring in another in Luke Shaw. Back from his horrific injury that was picked up last season, Shaw’s played in 15 games this season and is starting to regain form. With rumours surrounding his future he would seem like a more than capable candidate to replace Monreal in the summer.