Welcome back. In my post after the Leicester win last weekend, I touched on how the celebrations of Danny Welbeck’s last-gasp goal suggested a really good atmosphere among the squad, and Nacho Monreal has been explaining why the importance of harmony among team-mates is vital to a club’s chances of success.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, the Spaniard discussed how having a settled set of players helps to foster friendship, revealed there are no cliques at London Colney and also his belief that the Arsenal squad can cope well with injuries because there is always another high-class team-mate ready to play. He said:
It is very important the atmosphere in the dressing room. It is mandatory to have a really good relationship with your team-mates, we are like a unit. You play like a unit and you spend a lot of time with them. I can see now there is only one group. We are together and in every moment the atmosphere is amazing – this is very important to get trophies. If you want to win something it is necessary to have a good group. In the last few years we have played with the same players. Every summer, we have signed one, two or a maximum of three players. The team is practically the same group so that is very important. Arsenal is not 11 players, we are 24 amazing players and when one is injured, the other player could play really well. We have really good players and really good people. In my opinion, it is better than ever.
And the left-back also revealed that after a difficult start, he’s now loving life in London on and off the pitch, largely thanks to learning English and the help of his fellow Spaniards in the Arsenal squad. Speaking on the Arsenal Weekly podcast, Monreal said:
Everything feels right. I can say that I feel at home on and off the pitch. If you don’t feel good off the pitch and in life in general, obviously you can’t give 100 per cent. However, at the moment, I love England, I love London and I love my team-mates so everything is positive. When I arrived here I knew that the first thing I had to do was learn English because, if you want to speak to your team-mates, the staff and anyone here, you need to learn the language. It was difficult for me because I’m very bad with different languages but I am trying. Mikel, Santi and Hector were very helpful for me because I didn’t speak English when I arrived, I didn’t understand anything, so every time I had a problem or didn’t understand something they explained it to me. Even in the evenings, sometimes you have nothing to do and you can spend your time with them. They helped me a lot.
Right. I’ve just noticed these quotes are from interviews quite a while back but given the positives vibes around team unity etc that have been swirling since Sunday’s brilliant win, the official site clearly felt the stories deserved a second viewing see as they’re headlined on the home page. And I won’t argue with that logic.
Finally then, it’s a few words from Arsene Wenger on why Monreal is very popular among his team-mates and also such an important part of the Arsenal squad in his eyes. The boss said:
He is a very important player at the club because he can play left-back and centre back. He has the consistency in his performances that is requested at the top level. Overall, his attitude has been absolutely fantastic on a daily basis since he arrived here. He’s 100 per cent committed and I think as well he has always improved since he has arrived and has shown that in many big games as well. He’s calm, focused and dedicated. He’s well-accepted and loved by his partners. He has the modest approach of a player who wants to give his best to the team. Everybody senses that and that’s why I think it’s important for the club to have that stability. Everyone in the Premier League would say that he has become a very strong player. Arsenal are gifted at the moment, I must say, with two top-class left backs. We have many young players. They need to be surrounded by experienced players, especially at the back. We now have experience at the back. Nacho is part of that – he’s a good example for the young players and we have a good bunch of young players. We have seen another one with Alex Iwobi the other day, who has shown talent. They need to see how you behave at that level.
My own opinion of Nacho is fairly straightforward: I think he’s the best left-back in the league and I feel more comfortable with us defensively when he’s playing rather than Kieran Gibbs, who though a very good alternative himself, lacks a little of Monreal’s maturity if I’m brutally honest.
But as Arsene says above, we have two really good full-back options on that side and looking at our rivals both at home and abroad, I’m not sure there are too many pairs as good as ours.
Back on Thursday.