By 90Min
October 04, 2017

Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has been forced to fill in at centre-back at various times throughout his Gunners career, making the transition from left-back more permanent in the latter stages of last season when Arsene Wenger adopted a back three system.


Following the summer arrival of Sead Kolasinac from Schalke, Monreal has exclusively operated as a centre-back this season. He's started all seven Premier League games in a central role, as well as once in the Europa League.

But rather than just being a stand-in, the Spaniard signed from Malaga in 2013 is thriving.

Data courtesy of EA SPORTS can reveal that Monreal is actually leading the Premier League when it comes to interceptions this season, managing 22 - an average of just over three per game.

Burnley's Steven Defour and Everton's Morgan Schneiderlin each have 21 interceptions to their names, while Huddersfield's Christopher Schindler and Liverpool's Joel Matip each have 19.

Similarly, only two players in the division - the aforementioned Schindler (26) and West Ham veteran Pablo Zabaleta (22) - have attempted more tackles than Monreal's 19 so far.

Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

But not only has the 31-year-old statistically been among the top defenders in terms of actual defensive work, he's at or near the top of key standings when it comes to defenders passing the ball, something which has become a crucial part of modern football.

Monreal was the only player in the Premier League, in any position, to complete more than 100 passes in last weekend's round of fixtures as Arsenal defeated Brighton. Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu was the next most successful passer with 96 completed passes.

Monreal wasn't just passing sideways either, he was looking forward with a view to attacking and completed 68 of his 102 passes in the opposition's half - another Premier League leading mark for all 10 of the weekend's games. Gunners team-mate Granit Xhaka managed 65.

ROLAND HARRISON/GettyImages

As far as his passing ranking among other defenders is concerned, Monreal trails only Tottenham duo Jan Vertonghen (247) and Eric Dier (225) for the season as a whole when it comes to passes completed in the opposition half - Monreal has managed 219 so far. Overall, he has completed 454 passes, which is more than Dier (390) and only 27 less than Vertonghen.

Monreal is right up there when it comes to passing accuracy in the opposition half. In other words, he isn't just giving the ball away when he looks to play it with attacking intent. He is averaging a success rate of 91% in such circumstances, lower only than Manchester City's John Stones (94%) and, somewhat surprisingly, Arthur Masuaku of West Ham (92%).

Data Courtesy of EA SPORTS, the Lead Partner of the Premier League

Image by Jamie Spencer


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