Arsenal’s narrow 2-1 win over Middlesbrough on Monday night showed that under-fire manager Arsene Wenger is willing to tweak his tactics, with the Gunners going into the must-win game with a 3-4-2-1 formation. Thankfully, the move was fruitful and got Arsenal all three points in a game where anything else would have been a fatal blow to the North London side’s Champions League ambitions.
The new system, while giving ample creative freedom to our star players Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez who played just behind Olivier Giroud, also really brought the Gunners’ wide players into the mix and made Arsene Wenger’s side a bigger threat from the flanks. But while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who started at right wing-back, had his best game for Arsenal in a long time, the same cannot be said for Nacho Monreal who started at the left.
The Spaniard, who was partly at fault for Alvaro Negredo’s equaliser early in the second half, really did not seem to have the legs required to play as a wing-back and looked like a liability, both going forward and at the back. The former Malaga man seems to have lost a yard or two of pace and sometimes tends to get bullied off the ball too easily. It is most certainly a worrying sign when your wing-back gets beaten for pace by Stuart Downing and fails to avoid a telegraphed ball into the box.
The former Malaga man has not had his best season at the Emirates and with Arsenal looking likely to sign Sead Kolasinac from Schalke, the future does not look good for Nacho. Perhaps it was the impending tactical shake-up that prompted Wenger to move for the Bosnian. While it remains to be seen if Arsene Wenger will stick to the system, it is surely a risk to play Nacho Monreal on the left flank.