Paul Merson criticised Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal as he picked his combined Arsenal-Chelsea eleven ahead of the match between the two at Stamford Bridge.
Merson hardly picked any Arsenal players for his side, only grudgingly selecting Alexis for the team. However, when it came to the defence he was particularly critical of the Gunners, telling Sky Sports (via Squawka): “They both play three at the back but Arsenal’s three are awful.
“Nacho Monreal wouldn’t get in if I was picking a combined XI against a bottom-half team. That’s not his fault, he’s being played out of position.”
Squawka looked at the statistics to try and support this, and noted that Monreal is ranked 15th in the league for their stats on defensive errors, with 0.25 per 90 minutes, as well as only winning half of his headed duels. Although they did also point out his 90% pass accuracy.
Monreal has had a mixed time with the Gunners in general. At first Nacho was slated by fans, who preferred Kieran Gibbs in the Spaniard’s first season or two. However, he then started to come into his own, and nail down the left-back position.
So it seemed, but now Nacho is playing centre-back as Merson points out, and he hasn’t had such a good time of it. Sead Kolašinac is having a fantastic start to the season, and as such is likely to be first choice on the left, so realistically centre-back is the only way the 31-year-old can get into the starting eleven.
However, even if Nacho hasn’t been fantastic for the Gunners so far this campaign, my personal opinion is that Merson has gone way over the top with his criticism.
The former Malaga man is a solid defender and I feel that the bottom half teams would gladly take him.