Nacho Monreal is a very solid player.
Since arriving from Málaga in the winter transfer window of 2013, he has gladly done the dirty work. He has been an unflashy defender, only noticed when something goes wrong.
He gets forward sometimes, but just to swing crosses in.
He is not a young speedster like Bellerín.
His spot is the one usually tagged in transfer rumours as needing an upgrade.
He was brought in, seemingly, to be a decent squad player until Kieran Gibbs was ready. But Gibbs has not peaked as expected, and Monreal has made the regular starting spot his own. Arsenal are even favourites to land the up-and-coming Sead Kolasinac from Schalke in the summer despite all this.
Arsenal have been dreadful since Santi Cazorla’s injury.
The Gunners have lost way more games than they should have and are hopelessly adrift in the title race.
They got to Wembley for an FA Cup semifinal, fortunate enough to draw not one but two non-league teams in the latter stages of the competition. Wenger is being protested, the Gunners’ best players want out; these dark days in Islington.
So who do they turn to? Alexis? Mesut? Maybe even Walcott or Giroud?
None of the above, but NACHO MONREAL.
An astounding strike
I am certain I startled my neighbours when Nacho smashed home the equaliser against Manchester City.
I was too busy running around my living room shrieking in joy to notice who it was, all I cared was that the ball was in the net.
When my heart rate came back into normal range, I exclaimed, “NACHO?!?!?”
Playing him as a wing back in a back 5 (or 3 depending on how you look a it) gave him the freedom to barge forward and equalise. Not only did he score, but he hit a VOLLEY. With his weaker foot!
I could not believe my eyes. It felt like the twighlight zone.
Lee Hurley here at Daily Cannon unearthed this incredible gif that I cannot get enough of:
I don't know why but it existed before Nacho's goal pic.twitter.com/oa2nICo8Gk
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) April 23, 2017
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Three days later, with the Gunners, facing a must-win game against champions Leicester (still sounds weird), Arsenal found themselves needing another late goal.
Welbeck, Giroud, and Ramsey were brought on. Everyone was getting forward.
Then in the 86th minute….
“HE’S DONE IT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
It was technically a Robert Huth own goal, but one could argue that Nacho, being the experienced goal scorer that he is, purposefully bounced it off the lumbering German and into the net.
Nacho Monreal had scored two crucial goals in the span of 72 hours.
It is so fitting that a player who works so hard for such little credit is finally having his moment in the spotlight.
At a time when football no longer seemed fun, Nacho, of all people, has brought back hope.
Here’s hoping he gets a hat trick at White Hart Lane.