Michael Owen Points Out Monreal’s Tactical Naivety For Rennes’ Third Goal

By The Editor
on 8th March 2019

Michael Owen baffled by Monreal’s decision ahead of Rennes’ third goal…


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BT Sport pundit Michael Owen lambasted Nach Monreal’s decision to take a throw-in deep inside Rennes’ half minutes before the final whistle.

Given that we were down to 10-men and a 2-1 defeat wouldn’t have been a disaster, Monreal was caught way up the field and Rennes punished us with a devastating counter-attack.

Ismaili Sarr, the highly-rated 20-year-old winger who was operating from the Rennes’ right-wing, found himself all alone at the back post to head home.

Not only was Monreal out of position, but Matteo Guendouzi failed to track back and fill in for the Spaniard in the left-back slot to prevent the danger.

The 3-1 result leaves us with some serious work to do if we’re to reach the last eight of the Europa League and save ourselves from an embarrassing exit.

“I don’t like that. You’re in the 88th minute and your left-back is there. You’re happy with 2–1,” Owen said.

“You’ve got 10 men away from home and a return leg to go. Why is the left back taking the throw-in?

“Look where the goal comes from. It’s exactly where Monreal should be.

“Now, I’m not taking anything away from Rennes. That was a brilliant, brilliant goal. But look at Monreal, top of the picture, and the big wide open space.

“Ramsey running past Guendouzi again, Guendouzi not springing back – by the way he came on as sub so he had plenty of energy.

“And then there’s a gaping hole where Monreal should have been. He should never have been taking a throw-in in the left wing position, with two minutes to go.”

It’s been a common theme in our recent history in European competitions with the idea of game management often non-existent.

Monreal is an experienced defender and one had hoped that by now he’d know to minimise the damage in the first leg and take a 2-1 result back to the Emirates Stadium.

We now have two games in a matter of days that will shape our season.