A couple of seasons ago when Jose Mourinho was asked which of his defenders were the best in the team, the Portuguese manager didn’t say Terry or Ivanovic but named Cesar Azpilicueta as the best defender in the league. The Spaniard might not be the biggest name in the world of football, but he has shown his ability to be one of the best defenders in the league.
A similar story can be told about Nacho Monreal, who might not have had the best of starts to his Arsenal career, but he did show grit and is now one of the best fullbacks in the league. Both players might not have the razzle dazzle of fullbacks such as Dani Alves or Patrice Evra during their glory years, but they are stalwarts in what they do. So which defender comes out on top for their respective London team?
Two Spaniards duking it off
We would be comparing the fullbacks based on their performances in the Premier League season thus far. Using Squawka.com, we would be comparing the per game averages for certain metrics and judging which defender comes out on top.
Both players are known to head off into attack and the amount of times, they link with the front end of the team is crucial to their style of play. Nacho Monreal provides close to 48 successful passes per game while Azpilicueta scores 42 successful passes per game at Chelsea. The stats are a little skewed towards the Gunner when it comes to pass completion with Monreal having a pass completion of 87% per game while Cesar Azpilicueta comes home with an 80% pass completion rate.
When it comes to chances created per game, it is the Arsenal fullback who marches ahead of his Spanish teammate. Monreal averages 1.14 chances per game, showing the intent that he has in helping the Arsenal attack, Azpilicueta on the other hand manages just 0.57 chances per game for his team.
While attacking is one of the main jobs for a fullback, they do need to defend a lot. Cesar shows his ability by notching up 2.29 tackles won per game while Monreal trails with just 1.43 tackles won per game. Surprisingly, both players have an identical aerial duel winning percentage of 62.5%; they aren’t the tallest of defenders so winning aerial battles would be a little difficult for them.
Azpilicueta also claims more interceptions for Chelsea with an average of 2.43 per game while Monreal only brings in 1.57 interceptions per game. But Monreal is better at blocking shots with 0.57 blocks per game to Azpilicueta’s 0.14 blocks.
Based on the stats, one player scores over the other in one particular facet of the game but loses out on another. There really isn’t much difference between the players and they both seem to be doing a stellar job for their respective clubs in the league, thus far.