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July 2021

Monreal – Gibbs, the best left back pairing in the PL

By Walter Broeckx

I know in Belgium they make a lot of fuss about the fact that Vermaelen isn’t able to get in to the Arsenal team this season. And they say it might ruin his chances for the Belgium national team.

Now to be honest I don’t give a fuck about that national team. And the people from that same national team easily forget that it was them who played him when he already had a problem with his back at the end of last season and resulting in Vermaelen being out all preseason, missing the start of the season and now sitting on the bench because of the chemistry of the combination Per-Kos.

Maybe in Spain they will make the same noises about Monreal. He is sitting on the bench most of the time at Arsenal for the moment. So it might be bad for his chances to get his place in the Spanish team for the world cup. But the season is still long and as we could see yesterday Gibbs who has played an awful number of games already can and should get some rest from time to time.

It was for me a bit of a surprise to see Monreal start and not Gibbs. I think so far this season Gibbs has been in excellent form. Most of the time the keeping of clean sheets is attributed to the combination Per-Kos but it would be not acceptable to not mention Sagna and Gibbs and give them the credit they deserve. And Szczesny of course.

Gibbs played an important part and as an attacking left back has not only helped in keeping the other teams away from scoring but also joins in attack and helps scoring goals. The biggest victim of Gibbs being outstanding is Monreal. And I kind of feel for him.

Because whenever he has played he has only showed that he too is really a high class left back. Each time when he came on he was right in the action. And on a few occasions he came on as a sub to kill of games and played in front of Gibbs as a left midfielder. I remember the Crystal Palace match when we were down to 10 men and he came on and he shielded the defence on the left flank but was instrumental in us going forward when we got the chance.

He hasn’t put a foot wrong whenever he played this season. And maybe he played not enough. Because yesterday when given the chance to start he showed exceptional quality once again.

His most important moment was of course his goal line clearance. On a rare occasion that Andy Townsend, the “neutral pundit who loves English teams as long as they are not called Arsenal” could have shouted get in, it was Monreal that made sure that our 2 goal lead stayed intact. And that at the end of the day we could register another clean sheet.

Now if we only go back some 12 months we all remember that when Gibbs couldn’t play because of an injury or fatigue we had to play Santos at left back. When things didn’t work out for Santos as hoped and part of the crowd got on his back it was clear that something had to be done about the left back situation. And when Gibbs was injured in January we brought in Monreal.

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I have heard that he was a summer target but because of the situation we took him in January. And he really has settled in nicely in the team. In fact I cannot remember that after a match I felt that he had a bad game.

Yesterday once again he showed that he can be as good as Gibbs without any problem. Going up and down his flank and I think on a few occasions his team mates should have used him more when he made a great run forward but wasn’t picked for the pass. I remember Rosicky having a bad shot when Monreal could have only the keeper to beat if Rosicky would have passed the ball to him.

So when we look at the left back position it is clear to see that we have two great left backs. And both of them can also play in a more advanced role when needed according to the match situations. But usually only one left back can start a game. And I think because of his great performance Monreal is giving Wenger a headache in who to pick for the next game.

In the past Gibbs has been a bit injury prone (also because of some injuries from bad kicks) and we should be careful not to overload him. So I don’t have any problem with Monreal starting a few more games in the place of Gibbs.

I think we have 2 great left backs at out disposal for the moment and whoever we play I feel sure they will do their best and will help the team out defensively and in attack.

What a turnaround compared to 12 months ago. And what a problem for Wenger to keep both of them happy. But better for him to have such problems than as we had a few seasons ago looking at the supporters in the stands thinking: who can be the next left back.

And once again one of the players involved was a player that most of us never really heard of before we bought him. Like I said before, I feel a bit sorry for Monreal and his game time this season. He deserves more, but then again…Gibbs has also been exceptional this season. Just rotate them Arsène, just rotate them and keep them both fit and sharp.

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19 comments to Monreal – Gibbs, the best left back pairing in the PL

  • Matt Clarke

    Agreed…they both have a certain match-day intensity. they are focussed and determined. It is great to see.

    A headache that AW will not mind having 🙂

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    No arguments from me with any of that. We are very blessed in that position. I would just like our contracts department to sort out a new one for Sagna.

  • Nii

    My problem is sagna they should try as much as they can and sort out his contracts for once

  • AL

    Agree with your sentiments Walter. It’s hard not to feel for Monreal, esp with the performances he’s put in whenever required. He’s a very good defender; his goal line clearance is testimony to that. I particularly liked the way he waited for the ball to come down to a nice level before hooking it away. Another defender would’ve bundled that ball over the line,

  • AL

    Accidentally hit post before I finished typing. He was coolness personified. And a goal line clearance is worth as much as a goal scored at the other end.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I have been pleasantly surprised by the way AW plays Monreal later in games – slotting in to the LB berth or further forward in tandem with Gibbs .
    A few times we have seen Jenkinson do the same on the right. The 4 fullbacks seem very comfortable and this change in no way hindered our attack in the earlier games when our midfield injury list was long .

  • Thai gunner

    Wow! great! But be careful of your faulty words would be nice.

  • bjtgooner

    Arsenal has a history of quality left backs – and these two guys are certainly maintaining that history and quality.

  • Oliver

    Yep, really like Nacho, I want to get a chant going for him “Nacho Nacho man”…
    anyhow, yeh I think Wenger can afford to rotate them a bit. Monreal does get quite a lot of sub appearances but he deserves a few more starts.

  • nicky

    Remember also that Gibbs is a potential successor to Cole as the national side’s left back and occasional rests will be of increasing importance in order to obtain 100% performance for both Club and country.

  • americangooner

    Gibbs has been immense but quiet. much like arteta last year. He has been quiet due to the fact that he has less penchant to go forward. Unlike sagna, he sits more towards our half. One of the reasons why in most matches we tend to attack from the right is due to Sagna. Arteta in the Soton match made more passes to Sagna than Gibbs. Gibbs has already talked about adding attacking credentials to his plays. That way we will have real attacking threat from both sides of the flanks.

  • TJ

    Great to have fullbacks of the quality we have. It will be interesting to see how Bellerin does at Watford

  • Gord


    The Mirror is reporting that Pat Rice has been admitted to hospital with cancer.

    Hoping for the best, Pat Rice.

  • elkieno

    Gord: I wonder if this is why he retired and Bouldy took over?
    Anyway, my prayers and well wishes are being sent over to him as soon as I hit ‘POST’. A loyal servant of the club and will be remembered as a legend in my mind.
    COYG and Pat!

  • Nelson Wong

    Its for certain the best left back pairing. No Question. It is also the postion that is the saftest of the whole team. Not only both players are good, they always play in the same position so things are more simple. There are plenty of player in the midfield but they keep shifting positions. We do not know what is the best combo with who in what position yet.

    Who is better between the LB? I would prefer to give Monreal a go since I usually prefer more “conservative” type of player (or matured) performance who does not lose the ball and don’t get caught out in wrong positions.

    To really see who’s better, we needa give Monreal a few starts but then I don’t think Wenger will.

    The back 5 are performing very well but if you really want to pick on someone, the left is the weaker side.

    It was the better side last year but Sagna has return to his best and opposition rarely threaten there. On the other hand, Jenkison is not up to first team level yet so if you consider first team and reserve, we have to put left side as the better one in the long run.

    As for Vermaelen, it is clear that he is not up there. He isn’t performing badly but he is just not forming up with the team. It doesn’t help his case that he played in place of per in the two most recent losses and the team lose more often when he is on. No.3 CB is just the right position for him.

    Arsene clearly show that he knows the situation because when he needs to add protection during a game, he ops for Monreal first although Vermaelen can play both CB and LB, and look more agressive.

    So I am not too happy for Monreal being stuck as no.2 LB I am perfectly OK with Vermaelen’s current position.

    Its very healthy to have this pool for the team anyway. They will need to rotate the team so Monreal will come in more often. Not sure for Vermaelen.

  • Gord

    @ elkieno

    The Mirror article mentions contact with Arsenal. I immediately looked, and seen nothing at And looking just now, there is still no indication on the main page.

    It is certainly possible that Pat Rice retired because he was told he had cancer. That Bould stepped into his place is no slight on Bould, he seems a very competent person (on the field and at Arsenal now).

    I hope that Tony, Walter or someone starts a thread in the morning. Pat needs the good wishes of all Gunners and Gooners. Well, except the AAA, they should go support Tottenham.

  • Damilare

    Get well soon Pat Rice.

  • elkieno

    Gord: Finally my boss left I can post again hehe…
    Anyway, I will never forget the West Brom game at end of the where AW hugged Pat Rice like a kid hugs his toy, loved it…

    Yes Untold, please do something on Pat I would love to read his story, even if he doesn’t have Cancer. To me he was always the reliable friendly face next to Wenger always.
    God Speed Pat!

  • bjtgooner

    I can remember Pat from his early days as a young player – and what a very fine and courageous player he was.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.