Arsene Wenger thinks there’s less focus on Nacho Monreal’s fantastic recent performances because the Spaniard just quietly gets about his work without fuss.
Arsenal beat Chelsea in the League Cup semi-final on Wednesday evening, and Monreal played impressively again. Most prominently, his first-half header took a double deflection and ended up in the goal for the Gunners’ equaliser.
More than that, he contributed well in all areas of the pitch. Wenger enjoyed the Spaniard’s performance, and said the lack of focus on Monreal in the media is nothing to do with how the full-back is playing.
“For me he gets very much credit,” Wenger explained to Arsenal.com. “Maybe there’s a bit less focus on him because he is not a candidate for the English national team and doesn’t make many statements or maybe not enough on social networks.
“But our job is about performance and I like the world of silent leaders. That is when people come, they perform, they don’t talk, they go home and they come in the next morning, train well and then the next day they do it again. They are the real leaders in the teams.”
Against Chelsea, Monreal put in an all-action performance that really showed what Arsenal missed while he was out. He won all of his three aerial duels, as well as making three tackles and three clearances. The 31-year-old also made four interceptions and completed 89% of his passes.
None of that is the kind of thing that necessarily grabs the headlines, but it’s what the Gunners need. Players who remain calm with and without the ball are important in big games like a cup semi-final.
It’s not the first time Monreal’s had an impact in a semi recently either. Last year, he scored the equaliser against Manchester City at Wembley. Those big game moments come from the defender’s hard work on the pitch every week.
This season, Monreal’s been as consistent as anyone in the team, and he’s seeing the rewards. Hopefully he can keep it up for the rest of the season.