If you asked anyone who is Arsenal’s best fullback, you’d likely find 100% of respondents tell you that it is Hector Bellerin and not Nacho Monreal.
In fact, the Spaniard is a vastly underrated defender, even amongst Arsenal fans, but he is the less spectacular of the two, devoid of blistering pace and the enthusiasm of youth.
Nacho is a safe option, and he’s been a bloody brilliant one for us since he arrived, improving season on season.
This year, however, it seems like that trend shows signs of slowing, if not stopping altogether.
It could be many things – a temporary blip, our eyes deceiving us (he has higher ratings this season than his younger teammate, although not for this game), his age and a general slowing of his body, or that opposition teams are targeting him more.
Against Boro, it was most certainly the latter.
Looking at the pass map of Aitor Karanka’s men, it is clear to see that they made a conscious decision to attack down Arsenal’s right, pitting the super fast 20-year-old, Adama Traore, against the 30-year-old.
It was a move that paid off time and time again.
Nacho finished the game with stats of 0 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 clearances, 1 blocked shot, 1 foul and an overall rating of 6.63. His adversary, Traore, meanwhile, ended the game with 2 shots, both of which were on target, 1 key pass, 2 dribbles drawing 1 foul and being dispossessed just once for a rating of 7.37.
Hector Bellerin’s rating was 7.64 with 1 tackle, 4 interceptions, 3 clearances, 1 blocked shot and 2 fouls.